In 1888, Cecil Rhodes, spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained mineral rights concession from local chiefs. In the same year, Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively) were proclaimed a British sphere of influence. The administration of Northern Rhodesia was transferred to the British colonial office in 1924 as a protectorate.
In 1953, Northern and Southern Rhodesia were joined with Nyasaland (now Malawi) to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Northern Rhodesia was the center of much of the turmoil and crisis that characterized the federation in its last years. At the core of the controversy were African demands for greater participation in government and European fears of losing political control.
A two-stage election held in October and December 1962 resulted in an African majority in the legislative council and an uneasy coalition between the two African nationalist parties. The council passed resolutions calling for Northern Rhodesia’s secession from the federation and demanding full internal self-government under a new constitution and a new national assembly based on a broader, more democratic franchise. On December 31, 1963, the federation was dissolved, and Northern Rhodesia became the Republic of Zambia on October 24, 1964.
Zambia became the 9th
African state to gain independence from the British crown. On October 24, 1964, President Kenneth David Kaunda became the first President of the Republic of Zambia. At the Independence Stadium in the capital city, Lusaka, thousands of people shouted “Kwacha” meaning the “Dawn,” as they watched the red, black, green and orange colors of the Republic of Zambia’s flag replacing the British Union Jack. Officiating at the event was Princess Mary who read a personal message from the Queen as the United Kingdom welcomed the newest member of its Commonwealth.
Democracy and Peaceful Transition of Power
The Republic of Zambia, a presidential representative democracy, transitioned from being a one-party state to a multi-party democracy in the early 1990s. It remains one of the few southern African countries to experience the peaceful alternation of power between opposing parties (Zambia’s State of Democracy assessment project, 2010
Zambia’s commitment to democratic and peaceful transition of power has been the bedrock of why many international organizations continue to do business with the country. The country has had five (5) Presidents from three (3) different political parties.
- First Republican President, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda of UNIP (1964 – 1991)
- President Federick Chiluba of MMD (1991 – 2002), deceased
- President Levy Mwanawasa of MMD (2002 – 2008), deceased
- President Rupiah Bwezani Banda of MMD (2008 – 2011)
- President Michael Sata of Patriot Front (2011 – Present)