Centre for Studies in Democratisation
CSD
Students' Working Paper Series
The Perils of an Imported State:
Explanations for Democratic Failure in
Zambia
Theo Bass
[email protected]
Working Paper n. 8/ 2011
Centre for Studies in Democratisation
Department of Politics and International Studies
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/csd/
The Centre for Studies in Democratisation (CSD) was established at
the University of Warwick in 1992 in response to a growing interest
in the study of democracy at a theoretical and empirical level.
Democratisation has become a central political theme and features
now prominently on the foreign policy agenda of western countries.
Members of CSD are seeking to understand why, how and when
democracies emerge, sustain or collapse. They also investigate the
reasons why democratisation can sometimes be problematic.
Do not hesitate to contact us for more information!
Renske Doorenspleet (Director):
[email protected]
Or visit our website:
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/research/csd/
Abstract
This paper employs an historical comparative case study of Zambia to show
empirically the prominence and longevity of sectionalism and broader
informal practices. I aim to display the importance of an understanding of
these cultural attributes in explanations for democracy, instead of their
suppression or outright disavowal. Such disavowal is apparent in prevailing
explanations, which emphasise the sole importance of economic
modernisation; an approach I aim to show throughout as having a
detrimental effect on indigenous democratic initiatives. More specifically, I
aim to give empirical support to the “imported state hypothesis” which
suggests that democracy must be premised on a degree of political and
cultural self-determination. I finish the essay by pointing to the broader
comparative implications of my research.
Key Words: Zambia, democracy, sectionalism, neo-patrimonialism
The Perils of an Imported State: Explanations for Democratic
Failure in Zambia
Theo Bass
INTRODUCTION
Zambia had high hopes for democracy following its return to multi-party
politics in 1991. The past two decades, however, yield disappointing results
for democratic progression. Like Dahl, I argue that democracy (or “polyarchy”) refers to regimes that “have been substantially popularized and liberalized”1. There are various degrees of adherence to the ideals of polyarchy,
and therefore Dahl suggests that the move from hegemonic regimes is likely
to remain a slow generational process2. The relevance of this to African
countries is that over time these developing democracies are most likely to
exhibit characteristics unique to their own political situation. In Zambia, I
refer to unique characteristics as embedded sectionalism and informal politics. My research question therefore concerns whether the most important explanations for democracy are those that acquire an understanding of these
cultural attributes, and subsequently whether prevailing explanations for
democracy - where importance is ascribed to class or economic growth should account for them.
Zambia provides an excellent choice for an historical comparative
case study. This is because a post-independence (1964) transition from
multi-party rule, to single-party rule (1971), and then a shift back to multi1
2
Dahl R., Polyarchy, 1971, Yale University Press, p.8.
Dahl R., Op Cit., p.41
1
party rule (1991) allows us to “double-check” factors that might explain
democracy in Zambia3. This ability to obtain stripped down and accurate explanations for democracy brings Zambia close to an “exemplary case
study”4. Subsequently, I aim to employ a wide range of quantitative and
qualitative data from these different epochs, comparison of which allows us
to rule out a number of possible explanations, as well elucidating a number
of persisting continuities throughout a history of frequent institutional
change.
The first short section will lay the empirical foundations. An historical
comparison of census data displays the long lasting prominence of linguistic
sectional cleavages in relation to lack of class cleavages. I subsequently
show that since independence, the western-educated elite has subscribed to a
modernising project which suppresses sectionalism as “primordial”, yet at
the same time the elite clandestinely practices sectionalism (and other informal practices) to maintain a grip on power. After a short assessment of
the formal institutional barriers to democracy in Zambia, I argue that little
can be done to change formal institutions until informal practices are understood rather than ignored or suppressed. The final section, therefore, attempts to theorise informal cultural practices which help maintain a disproportionately dominant executive. My findings, therefore, aim to support
Englebert’s “imported state hypothesis”, which suggests the high importance
of the modern state’s legitimacy - in terms of its congruency with pre-independence political norms - as an explanation for democracy. I conclude with
3
4
The importance of this is particularly prominent in the second section.
Hague R., Harrop M., Comparative Government and Politics, 6th Edition, 2004, Palgrave, p.45
2
a summary, followed by a discussion of the broader comparative implications of my argument.
Embedded Sectional Cleavages
At a 1926 memorandum, the acting director of native education stated that
“Northern Rhodesia unfortunately suffers probably more than any other
African protectorate from a diversity of dialects... it is not practicable for the
Government to support the production of literature in more than, say, four
languages”5. Therefore, colonial education policies, newspaper publishing,
and radio broadcasts promoted four main languages: Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga,
and Lozi. This emphasis on linguistic identity formed the basis of the main
ethnic cleavage which we still see today. Figure 1 extracts data from three
national censuses to show us that these four language groups have come to
identify the majority of the Zambian population since these colonial policies
took root. The stability over time of the 1980, 1990 and 2000 figures show
the sustaining effect of this mode of sectional mobilisation since independence.
Consequently, the most common form of interest-group aggregation in
most industrialised countries has struggled to emerge, namely class. This can
be traced back to the struggle for independence, which was fought largely
between groups defined by skin colour. Black Africans remained underprivileged after independence. With white settlers in 1968 earning on average
5
Cited in Posner D., Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa, 2005, Cambridge University Press, p.64.
3
Figure 1: Language Use in Zambia / Northern Rhodesia
Data for 1930 approximated from North Rhodesian Annual Report on Native Affairs cited in Posner (2005). Data
for 1980, 1990 and 2000 extracted from Zambian national censuses.
K4,875 compared with Africans’ K7896, competition and calls for economic
redistribution appeared in colour terms7.
Percentage of population
Therefore, Molteno suggests that in the absence of other major cleavages,
politicians have tended to make sectional appeals, reinforcing the relative salience of sectionalism compared to other forms of mobilisation8. I provide
further empirical support for this point below. For now it is important to notice the continued resonance of sectional cleavages throughout independence. Paradoxically, the post-independence modernist nation-building project has - in the quest for democracy - actively sought to rebuke sectional or
6
7
8
Molteno R., ‘Cleavage and conflict in Zambian politics: a study in sectionalism’, in Tordoff W. (ed.),
Politics in Zambia, 1974, University of California Press, p.81.
Further subtracting from substantial development of class consciousness, in 1967 UNIP dropped
“African democratic socialism” as its ruling ideology and adopted Zambian “Humanism”. This was a
philosophy which “denies the existence of classes in Zambia” and “welcomes [private] ownership of
property”, leading to measures taken in 1968 to substitute a Zambian for a foreign capitalist class in
commerce. ibid.
Molteno R., Op Cit., p80.
4
“ethnic” based political organisations9. The following section therefore aims
to highlight problematic assumptions held by such modernisation theorists,
suggesting that prevailing explanations for democracy require greater sensitivity to endogenous realities.
Democratisation and “Modernisation”
There is considerable literature emphasising the importance of class cleavages for democratization, whereby the correct structural conditions allow the
mobilisation of effective mass pressure. For example, Rueschemeyer et al
describe the importance of mobilised working classes, while Moore suggests
the democratic importance of an upper class: “no bourgeois, no
democracy”10. These disagreements, however, have limited practical relevance to Zambia today: “economic reform has yet to bring into being any of
these candidates for the role of primary social force for far-reaching democratisation”11. Developing on what was said about the lack of class cleavages
in the previous section, here I aim to develop on the implications this has
had, and most importantly, what this tells us about the assumptions underlying externally oriented democracy promotion.
Zambia has a small independent property-owning class with no significant middle class. As alluded to above, during colonial rule few resources
were allocated to educating the black population, indigenous workers were
denied the opportunity to become entrepreneurs12. Burnell suggests a re9
10
11
12
Salih M., African Democracies and African Politics, 2001, Pluto Press, p.29.
See Rueschemeyer D., Huber E., Stephens J., Capitalist Development and Democracy, 1992, Polity;
Moore B., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, 1973, Penguin.
Burnell P., ‘Does Economic Reform Promote Democratisation? Evidence from Zambia’s Third
Republic’, New Political Economy, 2001, Vol.6(2), p.206.
Burnell P. and Randall V., Politics in Zambia, [website]
http://www.oup.com/uk/orc/bin/9780199296088/resources/cases/zambia.pdf, accessed on 10/02/11
5
sounding impact more presently when he describes that this historical lack of
managerial expertise helps to explain the succession of commercial bank
failures experienced in the 1990s13. Furthermore, when compared to the
Second republic, the beginning of the 1990s saw the basis for industrial capitalism shrink with the onset of structural adjustment. With total industrial
production declining by 28% from 1990 to 199814, economic liberalization
hit manufacturers hard15. Accompanying an overall decline in formal sector
employment in that era was fragmentation of the union movement. It seems
that the trade unions’ disillusionment with Chiluba’s decision to adopt structural adjustment - especially after displaying committed organisation of
funds and resources in campaigning for his victory - contributed to their debilitation as a political force16.
The evidence presented here does not lead us to question the democratising impact of class cleavages in society. Rather, we are led to question
reforms that fail to see that promoting class cleavages and a vibrant market
economy requires certain socio-economic requisites such as “time, money
and know-how”17. In other words, they fail to understand the historical reasons for why sectionalism, not class, is the dominant political cleavage. Instead, “ethnicity” is understood simply as a by-product of the process of
modernisation, eventually to be “detribalized” by the forces of modernity18.
13
14
15
16
17
18
ibid.
IMF, Zambia - Statistical Appendix, 1999, [website] http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?
sk=3112.0 accessed on 25/02/11.
In the textiles industry for example, stiff international competition led to the closing of 47 firms, and
approximately 8,500 textile workers lost their jobs. See Simutanyi N., ‘The politics of structural
adjustment in Zambia’, Third World Quarterly, 1996, vol.17(4), p.831.
Burnell P. ‘Does Economic Reform Promote Democratisation? Evidence from Zambia’s Third
Republic’, Op Cit., p.206.
Burnell P. and Randall V., Op Cit.
Horowitz D., Ethnic Groups in Conflict, 1985, University of California Press, p.97.
6
Azarya and Chazan, for example, suggest that economic modernisation
blunts ethnic fractionalisation, therefore creating conditions conducive to
political development. If their analysis of Ghana and Guinea is correct, then
we might argue that steep economic decline in Zambia has led to a process
of “self-enclosure” in which active disengagement and “attempts to insulate
oneself from the state” represents a “retreat to traditional...or primordial
structures”19.
As I now show however, by looking at the way sectional cleavages
have actually changed, the empirical evidence becomes difficult to reconcile
with this hypothesis. Posner provides a rich empirical account of the prevalence of political institutional factors shaping sectional cleavages. Depending
on the party system voters align themselves to the most beneficial cleavage
in terms of acquiring patronage benefits, and as a result politicians find it rational to “play the ethnic card” in order to mobilise electoral support. As
noted above, dominant sectional cleavages today are linguistic. Following
the shift back to multi-party rule in 1991 UNIP came to be identified as a
Nyanja-speaking party, capturing 73% of the vote in the 21 Nyanja-speaking
constituencies but only 17.3% in the rest of the country. The MMD, “widely
regarded...as a party for the Bembas” won 86.6% of the vote in Bemba
speaking constituencies20. Historical comparison with the First Republic
(1968 election) displays similar linguistic cleavage structures: the ANC, for
example, gained 76.2% in Tonga-speaking constituencies and only 15.9%
elsewhere. Moreover, the dominant UNIP - who like the ruling MMD now,
19
20
Azarya V. and Chazan N., ‘Disengagement from the State in Africa: Reflections on the Experience of
Ghana and Guinea’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 1987, vol.29(1), p.127.
Posner D., Op Cit., p.108, p.238
7
were widely perceived as Bemba - were approximately 65% more likely to
win votes of people living in Bemba-speaking constituencies21.
Comprehensive election studies were barred in all Second Republic
elections except for 1973. Nevertheless, Posner displays that in the absence
of multi-party cross-national electoral appeals, 1973 saw 83% of existing
candidates move to a ‘home’ constituency to take advantage of “the sharper
focus on local issues [which] tended to...intensify lines of cleavage other
than those along regional or linguistic lines”22. This historical alteration of
cleavages somewhat invalidates assumptions made by modernisation theorists such as Azarya and Chazan. First of all, this switch to single-party rule
with the shift in sectional cleavage structure from linguistic to more “fractionalised” and “self-enclosed” tribal affiliations actually occurred in a time
of relative economic prosperity (with GDP at nearly $70023). It was not until
the mid-1970s when world copper prices plummeted causing severe economic decline. The 1991 multi-party shift saw cleavage structures of the
First Republic return, with movement away from “self-enclosed” tribal ethnic affiliation to form larger, cross-tribal linguistic ethnic cleavages despite
an era of much lower economic prosperity (with GDP at only $415 in
199124).
These are important points, as they suggest that the problems sectional
cleavages bring to democracy are difficult to correlate with, and therefore
cannot simply be solved by economic modernisation. In fact, I argue that the
21
22
23
24
Postner D., Op Cit., p.238
Posner D., Op Cit., p.206. This figure was “relaxed” to its lowest of 31% when the multi-party system
re-emerged in 1991, signifying the shift back to national level linguistic ethnic cleavages as the
prominent mode of group mobilisation. The quote is from Baylies and Szeftel cited in Posner on p.195.
World Bank, Databank, [website] http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD/countries
accessed on 26/11/10
ibid.
8
democratic problems associated with sectional cleavages result from subscription to this narrow view. To assume sectionalism is merely “traditional
ethnic values” or “primordial attachments”25 is to assume that sectional
groups are based on long-standing, immutable and even primitive emotional
attachments. Such assumptions fail to understand the rational economic motivation underlying sectional interest-groups. As shown empirically in the
opening section, the strength of present cleavages only became prominent in
the recency of colonial policies, based on pragmatic factors such as geographic proximity and linguistic unity26. Moreover, reference to “historic
groups”, Molteno suggests, assumes continuities in sectional boundaries
from the pre-colonial era. Yet with historical comparison this does not hold
in Zambia: “a group like the Bemba, which was internally divided in the last
century, became solidly UNIP” following the colonial manifestation of linguistic cleavages27.
Therefore, on the basis of the results of western led development projects, “modernisation” fails to explain democracy. The following section will
provide further support to this claim with the use of qualitative empirical
sources28. I aim to display in practice how the denial of sectional groups prevents the opportunity to secure recognised collective rights that would enable local governance institutions to take a more active role in democratising
state and development.
25
26
27
28
Coleman and Rosberg cited in Molteno R., Op Cit., p.63
Even the retraction to more localised tribal political cleavages seen during the Second Republic can be
traced back to colonial policies, the boundaries of which correlate with the patterns of mobilisation
which colonial appointed chiefs created to gather taxes in 1916. See Posner D., Op Cit., p.29
Molteno R., Op Cit., p.70
Like Filstead, I agree that the use of qualitative data helps to close the gap the between the empirical
social world and researchers’ interpretations of it. See Filstead W., ‘Introduction’, in Filstead W. (ed.),
Qualitative Methodology: Firsthand Involvement With the Social World, Markham Publishing
Company, 1970
9
Sectional Suppression
At first sight, public condemnations of “tribalism” made by public officials
make Zambian political orientation seem remarkably non-sectional. Zambian newspaper reports throughout each republic since independence warn:
“The Dangers of Tribalism” (1969) and “We Must Root Out Tribal
Politics”(1973)29. Today, in the run up to the general election, sectional condemnation is particularly rife: “we are One Zambia, One Nation and we
should do everything possible to discourage tribal differences”30. Nevertheless, sectional cleavages persist. A good example is in a 1993 by-election
when a candidate named Emmanuel Kasonde switched from the MMD party
(predominantly Bemba) to the National Party (an alleged Lozi-Tonga speaking party) and his share of the vote declined by 74% 31. This exemplifies the
kind of prisoner’s dilemma which actors find themselves in; voters are not
willing to fully give up their sectional affiliations since the patronage benefits of a truly “imagined” nationalist project are fewer, and therefore candidates continue to campaign on sectional grounds. Yet because sectionalism is
publicly denounced, actors engage in a hypocritical kind of “ethnic-finger
pointing”, which as we will now see is a major source of political unrest.
These examples aim to exemplify the tension between embedded sectional
29
30
31
Daily Mail, 2nd October, 1969. Daily Mail, 15th November, 1973. Cited in Posner, Op Cit., p.50
‘Chief Chisunka is leading the way, let’s follow’, The Post, 3rd February, 2011. Also see: ‘MPs deplore
tribalism’, Times of Zambia, 9th December, 2009; ‘Rupiah goes tribal on MMD leadership’, The Post,
7th January, 2011; ‘Rupiah believes, survives on tribe - Sata’, The Post, 10th January, 2011; ‘Mulafulafu
questions Rupiah’s ‘tribal parties’ remark’, The Post, 23rd February, 2011; ‘We’re fed up of regional
politics - Imbwae’, The Post, 31st March, 2011.
Posner D., Op Cit., p.231
10
cleavages, and the modernising project mentioned above which sees tribalism as “a very old fashioned way of talking”32.
In the run up to the 1968 election in Zambia, the United Party accused
a “Bemba dominated”33 UNIP government of not taking adequate steps to
live up to the Barosteland Agreement of 1964, in which “a solemn promise”
was given to “safeguard” some of the quasi-independent status that the western Lozi province enjoyed under colonial rule34. This conscious dual strategy
of accusing the government of ethno-centrism whilst drawing upon symbols
that strategists knew would resonate deeply with Lozi speakers would unify
these supporters without explicit reference to illegal ethnic coalition building. This inevitably forms the basis for resentment and retaliative “ethnic
finger-pointing” from other parties, with subsequent spiralling political unrest. So much is clear when we compare with the Third Republic which, remarkably, still displays heated disputes and conflict over the Barotseland
Agreement35. Most notably, Times of Zambia recently reported accusation of
Michael Sata, opposition leader, “fanning tribalism on [the] Baroste Agreement...One of his several methods to seek popularity” and “raise people’s
emotions” over the matter36. Four days after Sata’s tribal “fanning”, he was
32
33
34
35
36
Financial Institutions and Allied Workers general secretary, Joyce Nonde, cited in ‘Cabinet Size Mulongoti Versus Everyone’, The Zambian Economist, 11th December, 2007
Posner D., Op Cit., p232
‘Clause 8. - Agreements Relating to Barotseland’, Zambia Independence Bill, 1964
Examples include: ‘Harrington writes Kunda over Barotse Agreement’, The Post, 29th December,
2010; ‘Barotse Agreement is valid, says Sata’, The Post, 8th January, 2011; ‘Barotse royals express
their feelings to Kunda’, The Post, 7th January, 2011; ‘Chiluba enters Barotse issues’, The Post, 11th
January, 2011; ‘Resolve problems of Barotseland peacefully - Sata’, The Post, 5th February, 2011;
‘CCZ challenges Rupiah to urgently deal with Barotse Agreement’, The Post, 16th February, 2011;
‘Milupi raises Barotse Issue in Parliament’, The Post, 23rd February, 2011; ‘Delayed Response irritates
Barotse Royal Establishment’, The Post, 6fh April, 2011; ‘Rupiah refuses to ‘waste his money’ in
Western Province’, The Post, 13th April, 2011; ‘Magistrate Banda convicts and jails 7 Barostse
activists’, The Post, 22 April, 2011; ‘Mongu cop vows to continue the Barotse fight’, The Post, 23rd
April, 2011.
‘Sata fannaing tribalism on Barotse Agreement’, Times of Zambia, 23rd November, 2010
11
“tear-gassed” by the police in the street after a meeting. All part of President
Rupiah Banda’s “criminal activities”, he claimed37; what The Post have subsequently called Banda’s “persecution of perceived political enemies”38.
This displays the difficulty of resolving these issues without being
able to explicitly mobilise sectional support. The sheer longevity of the
Barotseland issue and the persisting “ethnic-finger pointing” that have
stalled its solution suggest that such a priori sectional suppression may actually impede democratic progression. This is evident in the fact that recent
discontent with the failure of politicians to bring a peaceful end to the Barotseland dispute39 has resulted in recent political violence in which two Lozi
activists have been killed40. This has been followed by the more recent “illegal”41 and “undemocratic”42 arrests of 23 Lozis on grounds of treason43; a
charge which has been criticized for inciting “racial hatred” against Lozis44.
Furthermore, Burnell points to local governance as a needy area in
Zambia, whose political dependence on the center makes any meaningful devolution of power untenable45. Although the idea of secession or the restoration of a dated Barotseland Agreement in its current form may be problematic46, this issue does lead us to discuss what the democratic implications of
decentralisation of power might be in Zambia. Lijphart suggests that for di37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
‘Police tear-gas Sata’, The Post, 26th November, 2010
“Rupiah cannot continue to callously defend what is wrong”, The Post, 7th February, 2011.
‘Barotseland will never secede - BRE’, The Post, 11th February, 2011.
‘Lozi blood will defeat Rupiah’, The Post, 8th February, 2011. Also see ‘Catholic bishops offer
solidarity to Barotseland’, The Post, 7th February, 2011; ‘Child Barotse detainee dies’, The Post, 23rd
April, 2011; ‘MMD will pay for Barotse blood - Imenda’, The Post, 24th April, 2011.
‘Sondashi questions Barotse arrests’, The Post, 17 February, 2011.
‘Continued detention of Barotse activists has dented politics - Milupi’, The Post, 10 February, 2011.
’23 Lozis on treason’, The Post, 20th January, 2011.
‘Handle Barotse issue sensibly - Fr Luonde’, Zambia24 Online, 22nd January, 2011.
Burnell P., ‘Does Economic Reform Promote Democratisation? Evidence from Zambia’s Third
Republic’, Op Cit., p207.
‘Why Barotseland Agreement should not be restored’, The Times of Zambia, 20th December, 2010.
12
vided societies with “geographically concentrated communal groups” like
Zambia, decentralisation or federalism is “undoubtedly an excellent way to
provide autonomy for these groups”47. Greater local government efficiency
in allocating resources could benefit the many rural poor in Zambia stricken
by poverty, increasing participation and so enhancing polyarchy. Yet because
politicians are “urged not to politicise the Barotseland Agreement...[and instead] to promote the national unit”48, we see that “problems...have been left
to worsen”, and the government has done little more than “gloss over” the
issues49. It seems the political elite’s fear of the capacity of sectionalism to
provide alternative institutions of government means the status quo of centralised executive dominance is maintained. Much of the literature focuses on
the dominant executive as an impediment to democracy in Zambia, and this
is what the following section will expand on. Before that, however, we must
summarise and subsequently rule out the two prevailing factors which the
previous sections have sought to undermine as the most important explanations for democracy.
While the previous section attempted to expose that modernisation
theory holds assumptions that provide a normative pre-definition of what is
necessary for democratisation, so far this section has displayed in more detail the political implications of holding such assumptions. In ten years Zambia has experienced impressive growth from a GDP of $307 in 1999 to
$1,118 in 2009, with industrial production from 2000 to 2006 increasing by
almost a half50, yet according to Freedom House, Zambia remains ‘partly
47
48
49
50
Lijphart A., ‘Constitutional Design for Divided Societies’, Journal of Democracy, 2004, Vol.15(2),
p104.
‘Politicians urged not to politicise the Barotse Agreement’, Lusaka Times, 27th November, 2010
‘Problems over Barotseland have been left to worsen - Chongwe’, The Post, 26th November, 2010
IMF, Zambia - Statistical Appendix, 2008, [website] http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.cfm?
13
free’ as it has done since 1972 when rating began51. This not only undermines explanations for democracy such as economic growth, but it also
leads us to question impact of a multi-party system on democracy. Contrary
to Freedom House, Polity data shows Zambia’s democracy rating fall for the
entire the Second Republic to -8, then rising steeply to 6 in 1991 where it remains close to today52. Yet the reality on the ground seems somewhat different. President Kaunda’s decision to create a single-party system was justified
as an attempt to prevent sectional conflict prone to multi-party rule. According to a formal UNIP official: “after [1971] there was no fighting and the
whole country was so quiet”53. Interestingly, in the absence of cross-national
opposing linguistic groups, the Barotseland Agreement dispute disappeared:
“[it] simply was not an issue again until 1991” as sectionalism manifested itself along more locally based tribal cleavages54. Therefore, all the multiparty system seemed to do was re-set the conditions for a similar type of illiberal democracy to that of the First Republic. The following section aims
to suggest what this impediment to democratic progression might be.
Executive Dominance
As mentioned above, the maintenance of an overly centralized and dominant
executive can explain why modernist nationalism is promoted, and why sec-
51
52
53
54
sk=3112.0 accessed on 10/02/11.
With the exception of the two years following the 1991 election. See Freedom House, Zambia Country
Report (2010), [website] http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?
page=22&country=7951&year=2010 accessed on 27/02/11.
Polity IV, Country Report 2008: Zambia, [online]
http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/Zambia2008.pdf accessed on 28/02/11
Cited in Posner D., Op Cit., p166
Kitwe cited in Posner D., Op Cit., p.198. This is not to suggest that there was no sectional conflict.
Posner suggests that elections were still “plagued by tribalism”.
14
tionalism is denied55 but at the same time manipulated as “an instrument of
power politics”56. Here I provide empirical backing to this claim, as well
asking what might be the cause of the issue.
As Scarritt suggests, in order to maintain a grip on power, the ruling
party (clandestinely) constructs solidarity in its sectional home, while promoting nationalism and condemning tribalism outside this region, preserving
the ability to win pan-ethnic support57. Such patterns are evident in the
UNIP’s depiction of UPP leaders as “a manifestation of Bemba tribalism” in
the 1960s, with the UNIP government’s subsequent arrest of two UPP leaders58. The Third Republic displays continuities in this type of behaviour:
when the National Party was formed in 1993 and the UPND in 1998 the
MMD attempted to contain these new parties’ electoral reach from extending
beyond their regional enclave. It responded by publicly branding them as
vehicles for Lozi and Tonga interests59.
Evidence of hypocrisy by the same ruling parties that condemn “tribalism” is also apparent. In the 1970s the Lusaka District Governor complained about UNIP officials canvassing support on “tribal lines”, who were
subsequently more likely “to increase their parliamentary representation and
so make claims to Cabinet seats”60. In the Third Republic, Chiluba (the
MMD ex-leader) showed signs of mobilising Bemba support by replacing
government Ministry posts in Legal Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Health with
55
56
57
58
59
60
‘Treasonable acts against legitimate government’, The Times of Zambia, 19th February, 2011
Molteno R., Op Cit., p.84
Scarritt J., ‘The strategic choice of multiethnic parties in Zambia’s dominant and personalist party
system’, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 2006, Vol.44(2), p.237.
Szeftel M., ‘“Eat With Us”: Managing Corruption and Patronage Under Zambia’s Three Republics,
1964-99’, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 2000, Vol.18(2), p.356
The Monitor, 19-25th November, 1999, cited in Posner D., Op Cit., p.113.
Molteno R., Op Cit., p.79
15
fellow “clansmen”61. These points are supported by the historical trend in
Cabinet appointments between 1965 and 1999. Although Bemba-speakers
only constitute 38% of the population, they took up an average of 55% of the
top six posts in this time period62.
How might we explain this? Rakner and Svåsand suggest that the
highly presidential nature of the polity along with a first-past-the-post
(FPTP) electoral system continue to mean opposition is fragmented and unlikely to provide an alternative to the current ruling party63. By the 1964
elections, the opposition ANC was confined to the southern province and
therefore it could only win 10 of the 75 seats contested. UNIP’s subsequent
electoral domination made the First Republic’s weakness of the multi-party
system “entrenched from the beginning”64. Moreover, the referendum style
nature of the 1991 election to vote out President Kaunda saw MMD win
70% of the vote, with of course, FPTP providing an even larger proportion
of the seats, which actually increased in 1996 as their proportion of the vote
declined65. Furthermore, FPTP has disadvantaged parties with support spread
thinly across Zambia, explaining why the MMD’s opponents in 1996 won so
few seats despite achieving nearly 40% of the vote66.
However, Reynolds calculates that even if the introduction of proportional representation had occurred in 1996, the MMD still would have seen a
61
62
63
64
65
66
Osei-Hwedie B., ‘The role of ethnicity in multi-party politics in Malawi and Zambia’, Journal of
Contemporary African Studies, 1998, Vol.16(2), p.241
Posner D., Op Cit., p.128
Rakner L. and Svåsand L., ‘From Dominant to Competitive Party System: The Zambian Experience
1991-2001’, Party Politics, 2004, Vol.10(1), p.54.
Szeftel M., Op Cit., p.209
Rakner L. and Svåsand L., Op Cit., p.55. Furthermore, the MMD reinforced its dominance when,
Chiluba in 1996 shifted the vote needed to elect a President from majority to plurality; the winning
candidate therefore only needs one more vote than any other candidate ruling out the prospect of future
coalition building.
Burnell P., ‘The party system and party politics in Zambia: continuities past, present and future’,
African Affairs, 2001b, Vol.100, p.248.
16
parliamentary majority of 36-38 seats instead of 11267. Why is there such
severe executive dominance? In what follows, I suggest that although formal
institutional problems undoubtedly play a role, perhaps even more significant in reinforcing executive dominance, and often overlooked, is the existence of informal political practices such as the elite’s hypocritical and
clandestine manipulation of sectionalism displayed above. As Burnell notes,
informalities accentuate Presidential power “over and beyond the dispensation of powers formally provided for in the republic’s constitution”68. Neopatrimonial politics, for example, further legitimates the existence of a single
“big man” and his ruling party. A preliminary example includes the Presidential Discretionary Fund which reserves the privilege of around K13 million for the President’s patronage powers annually69. The following section
therefore develops further on the discussion on sectionalism above, which in
many ways forms an important part of the cultural phenomenon of neo-patrimonialism. A broad focus on informal politics more generally is an important attempt to understand and theorise cultural politics more clearly. Indeed,
this is what I suggest explanations for democracy require, rather than, as
modernisation has shown, an outright disavowal of culture.
Explaining Informal Institutions
I begin by displaying empirically the broader existence of an informal
politics associated with neo-patrimonialism. 2009 Afro-Barometer data
displays that the demand for formal political institutions appears high, with
76% of respondents calling for “open and honest elections”. However, a
67
68
69
Cited ibid.
ibid.
Burnell P. ‘The Party System and Party Politics In Zambia’, African Affairs, 2001 Vol.100, p.251
17
majority of 54% does not think that elections “enable voters to remove
office leaders”. A mere 20% believe that the President “never ignores laws”.
Due to these perceived institutional deficiencies, citizens rely on informal
ties such as neo-patrimonialism or clientelism. Interestingly for example, the
43% showing “somewhat” or “a lot” of trust in the president against those
29% who answered “none at all”70 correlates with the the figures displaying
satisfaction with democracy in Zambia, of which 40% are “fairly” or “very”
satisfied, against 22% who are “not at all satisfied”. These findings suggest
that the personal and informal ties of trust that underlie presidentialism are
what people expect of democracy in Zambia. Further supporting this claim is
the fact that only 32% agree with what, to us, seems like a democratic
statement: “people should be the bosses who control government”71. Instead,
65% think government should “take care of them like a parent”72.
Furthermore, historical comparison displays long lasting continuities of
the existence of patronage politics in Zambia. In 1964 constitution and
colonial emergency regulations considerable power was placed in the hands
of an executive presidency in order to quell clientelistic practices. Szeftel
describes that party office subsequently became dependent on executive
patronage - a strategy exemplified in the slogan “It Pays to Belong to
UNIP”. Highly centralised management of patronage led to disputes over
different public resources from different factions. Discontented with
President Kaunda’s allocation of patronage benefits - the impossible task of
the “balancing of factional claims” - led Simon Kapwepwe to leave UNIP to
70
71
72
Note that this may be because President Banda had only just taken office on an unelected mandate due
to the death of Mwansana (sp). In 2005, under Mwanawasa this figure was only 16%. See Round 3
AfroBarometer Survey Results, Zambia, 2005.
Emphasis added
Round 4 Afro-Barometer Survey Results, Zambia, 2009.
18
form the UPP, a sectionalist party which was subsequently highly repressed
and unable to win many votes73. Moreover, despite Kaunda’s claim that “the
era in which the politics of patronage has been a feature of life is gone”, the
public sector in the Second Republic, at its peak, controlled 70% of the
economy with earnings calculated to be 60% higher in the parastatal sector
than in the private sector74. The one-party state did not represent an end to
patronage politics, it merely centralised it.
In the Third Republic, despite the drive for liberal democracy hand in
hand
with
structural
adjustment’s
deregulation
and
privatisation,
bureaucracy defended itself successfully against cuts and low impact was
made on public employment levels between 1991 and 199875. Thus, a
centralised executive with clientelistic practices continued76. Much like the
First Republic, initial nationalism eventually fell back to dissatisfied
sectional appeals for greater patronage. A notable comparison, for example,
is the similarity between the case of the UPP’s suppression (the example
from the previous paragraph), and more recently in the 1990s, when the
National Party (NP) recently renewed calls for restoration of the Barotseland
Agreement, the MMD quashed these sectional appeals by improving Lozi
access to state power, so undermining the support base of the NP77. The
centralised and informal control of allocating patronage and power,
therefore, has given one single party disproportionate advantage over
73
74
75
76
77
Scarrit J., Op Cit., p.238
Szeftel M., Op Cit., pp.213-4
ibid.
For example, the minister who had been so devoted to prosecuting UNIP corruptive practices was
quoted saying “if i do not appoint people from my own region, who else will?” Cited in Szeftel M., Op
Cit., p.217
Lindemann S., ‘Inclusive Elite Bargains and Civil War Avoidance: The Case of Zambia’, Crisis States
Working Papers Series No.2, p21
19
potential threats to power (hence why Zambia has only seen one party
change in power since independence).
So how has democratisation approached these issues? Mkandawire
points towards the outright disavowal of cultural practices in democracy
promotion. Furthermore, the “misreading” of informal practices and key
actors as “irredeemably greedy, corrupt and captured by rent-seekers” is
what legitimates the further imposition of “capacity building” strategies aim
to “strip state structures to their bare bones” and rid the state of “culturalethnic attribute[s]”. This denies us the opportunity to think creatively, or
even understand African realities (for “capacity utilisation”)78. What is
worse, evidence seems to support Mkandawire’s claim that the further
imposition of externalised and technocratic policy-making as we have seen
with SAPs has in fact rebound on itself. “By offering little by way of public
choices for parties to compete over, it would encourage precisely those
practices it sought to overcome - personalism, factionalism, and
clientelism”79. Today in Zambia, with a general election looming, one only
has to glance at the local newspapers to witness the dominance of personal
politics over policy issues80.
78
79
80
Mkandawire T, ‘Thinking about developmental states in Africa’, Cambridge Journal of Economics,
2001, Vol.25,
pp.309-310
Mkandawire T., ‘Crisis Management and the making of Choiceless Democracies’ in Richard J. (ed.),
State Conflict and Democracy in Africa, 1999, Lynne Rienner, p.133.
See, for example: ‘Zambia opposition leader claims persecution’, Southern Times, 3rd December, 2010;
‘Rupiah has failed to deliver - Nawakwi’, The Post, 27th December, 2010; ‘Cage William Banda,
demands Kapijimpanga’, The Post, 5th January, 2011; ‘Kabimba accuses Chiluba of theft’, The Post,
13th January, 2011; ‘Rupiah is not fit for President - Chongwe’, The Post, 10th January, 2011; ‘Sata is a
devil - Kunda’, The Post, 18th January, 2011; ‘Sata mocks Rupiah, Chiluba over their popularity claims
in Luapula’, The Post, 10th February, 2011; ‘Banda’s mediocrity can’t continue, rise up against this
monster - Shakafuswa’, The Post, 24th February, 2011; ‘Rupiah’s era has eroded corruption fight Milupi’, The Post, 28th March, 2011; ‘Kunda can’t be trusted - Miha’, The Post, 29th March, 2011;
‘Get rid of greedy leaders, advises Rev. Matyola’, The Post, 6th April, 2011.
20
Therefore, explanations for democracy must become more sensitive to
and therefore to begin to understand realities on the ground. Hyden,
exemplifies this when trying to explain informal patronage politics in
modern African states by understanding the long-lasting importance of preexisting reciprocal networks81.Whereas classical microeconomics assumes
that actors engage in short-term, independent transactions that are
aggregated into markets, Hyden uses social exchange theory which assumes
that relations are built on enduring interdependent exchanges82. The failure
of neoclassical market reformists to fully understand this has had negative
implications on democracy and development. For example, “reciprocity” in
some African cultures may include the possibility of nonpayment because
someone with resources is expected to share their wealth. This is evident in
SIDO’s debt accumulation of K19 billion in 2000 with “little results”, after
which Chiluba proclaimed that “the era of handouts is over for good”83.
Most importantly, however, these claims suggesting that the modernist
vision has failed to understand and therefore accentuated the problems of
neo-patrimonialism - and what has been argued empirically throughout with
regards to sectionalism - allow us to confirm what Englebert calls the
“imported state hypothesis”. This claims that democracy is premised on the
legitimacy of the state according to its congruence with pre-existing political
systems and norms of political authority84. This essay has given this
hypothesis empirical reinforcement by displaying the problematic tension in
81
82
83
84
Hyden G., African Politics in Comparative Perspective, 2005, Cambridge University Press.
Hyden G., Op Cit., p.84
Burnell P. and Randall V., [online], Op Cit., p.198. SIDO is an acronym for the Small Industries
Development Association.
Englebert P., ‘Pre-Colonial Institutions, Post-Colonial States, and Economic Development in Tropical
Africa’, Political Research Quarterly, 2000, Vol.53(1), p.13.
21
Zambia between pre-independence sectionalism and post-independence
modernisation. This suggests that Zambia has paid a price in terms of
foregone democracy by failing to question the state structures it inherited at
independence. It also suggests that to make democracy work it must be
premised on a degree of political and cultural self-determination, it must
‘come from within’. I turn to one way this might be possible in the
conclusion.
CONCLUSION
This paper has shown empirically the continued tension since independence
between a pre-embedded tendency for sectionalism or, more specifically,
neo-patrimonialism and the Zambian elite’s subscription to a modernist
democratisation project which has actively sought to suppress such
practices. Yet despite the elite’s public condemnation of “tribalism”, the
tension is evident in the elite’s inevitable clandestine usage of these
embedded neo-patrimonial practices. As we have seen, the subsequent
centralisation of the state allows it to bypass formal institutions and maintain
a disproportionate grip on power. I have concluded that the most important
explanations for democracy will be those that, like Hyden, understand rather
than eschew this tension, and further in accordance with the imported state
hypothesis, propagate the historical consistency of indigenous political and
cultural norms .
These findings were only made possible due to the strength of historical
comparison in allowing me to elucidate the tension between pre and post-
22
independence political norms. I therefore recommend the further use of this
methodology in attempting to find further support for this hypothesis.
Englebert, for example, suggests that Botswana has high levels of
democracy due to the fact that its formation of a republic saw the
“hegemony of the traditional Tswana cattle-owner hierarchy remain
unchallenged, and a descendent of the royal family assumed presidency”85.
I do, however, recognise the limitations of my methodology, namely,
the focus on only one case makes the basis for generalisation more difficult.
However, as mentioned in the introduction, the historical “double-checking”
of our findings throughout Zambia’s frequent institutional change has
allowed us to strip down and assign particular prominence to specific
explanations, suggesting that Zambia might be used as something of an
“exemplary case study”. Therefore it would be interesting to see how
particular findings from this study could be used for broader comparative
research. One example includes the burgeoning literature on the detrimental
effects of ethnic party bans on democracy in Africa86. This has a lot to do
with what my findings from sections one and two suggest, namely the
importance of long-lasting sectional cleavages, and my subsequent
arguments that the suppression of sectionalism and informal practices causes
democratic tension. Therefore, the legalisation of sectional or ethnic
coalition building87 could be one important way of improving the historical
85
86
87
Englebert, Op Cit., p.14.
Bogaards M, Basedau M, and Hartmann C., ‘Ethnic party bans in Africa: an introduction’,
Democratization, 2010, Vol.17(4).
Note that with the acceptance and legalisation of sectionalism, no longer would there be a need to
clandestinely carry out these practices. This would therefore quell “ethnic-finger pointing” so
detrimental to democracy, as described by section three.
23
congruency of pre and post independency political norms, and therefore the
legitimacy of the state.
24
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