A landlocked country in south-central Africa, the Republic of Zambia is neighboured by several countries including Namibia to the southwest, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the south, Tanzania to the northeast, Malawi to the east, Mozambique to the southeast, Angola to the west and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north. Its capital city is called Lusaka, where much of the population is based (alongside the northwest Copperbelt Province).
Unlike many of its neighbours, Zambia has managed to remain peaceful and stable in the face of upheaval and combat that has plagued many other Africa nations in the years after colonisation. Since independence, the country has gained a reputation for fast economic growth and political stability. However, while relying on copper initially brought success, falling commodity prices have made Zambia’s economy vulnerable. The country’s population is among the fastest growing in the world and is projected to triple by 2050 according to the United Nations.
Zambia attained its independence in October 1964 and a constitution enacted in 1966 provided for a head of state, an executive President, who is also the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces. By law, the presidential term is five years via direct elections of the country electorate, with the constitution allowing for a President to serve two five-year terms. The cabinet and Vice President are appointed from the National Assembly, which is also elected every 5 years, with the former responsible for policy formulation and guiding the President on it.
In July 2009, a National Constitution Conference published a draft report that provided a host of recommendations, among them to establish that a President is elected by at least 50% of the country’s electorate, rather than a majority as set out by the constitution. While there was a possibility of extra voting rounds as a result of this recommendation, its supporters thought it would bring together a divided opposition. Those against it, however, commented that it could potentially make elections more expensive.
Upon independence in 1964, the country’s prime minister at the time, Kenneth Kaunda, stepped up to become the first Zambian president. His United National Independence Party (UNIP) held power until 1991, with the country being a one-party state until Mr. Kaunda was succeeded in 1991 by Frederick Chiluba. Mr. Chiluba held the top seat until 2002, when his chosen successor, Levy Mwanawasa, become president until he died in 2008. Mr. Mwanawasa is recognised for his role in raising the standards of living in the country and tackling corruption.
Rupiah Banda became Acting President after the death of Mr. Mwanawasa, and after being elected into office in 2008, he ruled for three years before stepping down after an electoral defeat to Michael Sata. Mr. Sata ruled for three years himself, passing away in late 2014, with the rest of his term served by Edgar Lungu, who was elected as the sixth Zambian President in 2016.
In January 2017, Mr. Lungu announced that he would seek another five-year term upon the completion of his term in 2021. It’s a move that opposition parties sought to block, but the country’s top court ruled that he would be eligible to stand for re-election.
As a former defence minister and justice minister, Mr. Lungu’s time in office has been a challenging one, with the biggest hurdle being to turn around the fortunes of a country whose top export, copper, has slumped due to falling commodity prices. His experience in both the private and public sectors is something he relied on to keep the country going.
Zambia’s politics have kept many keen and invested in the progress of the nation’s economy. Willah Joseph Mudolo, the co-founder of the ADF Group and an experienced entrepreneur, is among those keeping an eye on political affairs in the country. His interest has aspirational roots; he intends to run for Zambia’s presidency in 2026.