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Zambia (05/03)


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For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Republic of Zambia

Geography
Area: 752,614 sq. km. (290,585 sq. mi.); slightly larger than Texas.
Cities: Capital--Lusaka (pop. 1 million).
Other cities: Kitwe, Ndola, Livingstone, Kabwe.
Terrain: Varies; mostly plateau savanna.
Climate: Generally dry and temperate.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Zambian(s).
Population: Approx. 10 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.3%.
Ethnic groups: More than 70 ethnic groups.
Religions: Christian, indigenous beliefs, Muslim, Hindu.
Languages: English (official), about 70 local languages and dialects, including Bemba, Lozi, Kaounde, Lundu, Luvale, Tonga, and Nyanja.
Education: Years compulsory--7. Attendance--Less than 50% in grades 1-7. Less than 20% of primary school graduates are admitted to secondary school. Literacy--67.2%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--95/1,000. Life expectancy--35 years (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2002).
Work force: Agriculture--85%; industry and commerce--15%.

Government
Type: Republic.
Independence: October 24, 1964.
Constitution: 1991 (as amended in 1996).
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government), cabinet. Legislative--unicameral National Assembly. Judicial--Supreme Court, high court, magistrate courts, and local courts. Ruling political party: Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
Suffrage: Universal adult. Subdivisions: Nine provinces subdivided into districts.

Flag: Zambia flag

Economy
GDP (2001 est.): $3.6 billion.
Annual growth rate (2002): 3.0.
Per capita GDP (2001): $302.
Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium, hydroelectric power, fertile land.
Agriculture: Products--corn, sorghum, rice, groundnuts, sunflower seeds, vegetables, horticultural products, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, livestock, coffee, and soybeans.
Industry: Types--mining, transport, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, and textiles.
Trade (2000): Exports--$871 million: copper, cobalt, lead, and zinc. Major markets--Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Thailand, South Africa, European Union (EU), U.S. Imports--$1.253 billion: crude oil, refined petroleum products, manufactured goods, machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs. Major suppliers--South Africa, Saudi Arabia, U.K., Zimbabwe.
Major donors--Donor coordination is good, with various donors taking the lead in coordinating areas of their comparative advantage. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the National Economic Diversification Program are important focal points for donor collaboration. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been the leader of the Parliamentary Reform Subgroup of donors in the context of donor collaboration in support of democratic governance. Overall development assistance to Zambia has averaged $310 million a year (1997-2001). The World Bank is Zambia's largest donor. Other key multilateral donors include the International Monetary Fund (IMF), EU, UN agencies, and the African Development Bank. The United Kingdom and the United States are Zambia's first- and second-largest bilateral donors, respectively.

Zambia's major donors and their principal areas of collaboration with USAID include The World Bank (privatization, PRSP, agriculture, tourism, health, and wildlife sectors); Germany and the EU (tourism, small and medium business development); Norway and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (rural agribusiness development); Norway and the Netherlands (Public-private Agricultural Forum); Japan, Denmark, Sweden, the U.K., Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, and UNICEF (health sector); U.K., Japan, Norway, and other bilateral donors (HIV/AIDS activities); and U.K., Denmark, Norway, Japan, Netherlands, Ireland, Finland, the World Bank, and UNICEF (basic education). The U.S.-Japan Partnership for Global Health is active in 11 program areas. USAID also collaborates with 13 other donors in supporting Zambia's Basic Education Subsector Investment Program.

PEOPLE
Zambia's population comprises more than 70 Bantu-speaking ethnic groups. Some ethnic groups are small, and only two have enough people to constitute at least 10% of the population. Most Zambians are subsistence farmers. The predominant religion is a blend of traditional beliefs and Christianity.

Expatriates, mostly British (about 15,000) or South African, live mainly in Lusaka and in the Copperbelt in northern Zambia, where they are employed in mines and related activities. Zambia also has a small but economically important Asian population, most of whom are Indians. The country is 42% urban.

HISTORY
The indigenous hunter-gatherer occupants of Zambia began to be displaced or absorbed by more advanced migrating tribes about 2,000 years ago. The major waves of Bantu-speaking immigrants began in the 15th century, with the greatest influx between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. They came primarily from the Luba and Lunda tribes of southern Zaire and northern Angola but were joined in the 19th century by Ngoni peoples from the south. By the latter part of that century, the various peoples of Zambia were largely established in the areas they currently occupy.

Except for an occasional Portuguese explorer, the area lay untouched by Europeans for centuries. After the mid-19th century, it was penetrated by Western explorers, missionaries, and traders. David Livingstone, in 1855, was the first European to see the magnificent waterfalls on the Zambezi River. He named the falls after Queen Victoria, and the Zambian town near the falls is named after him.

In 1888, Cecil Rhodes, spearheading British commercial and political interests in Central Africa, obtained a 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. Southern Rhodesia was annexed formally and granted self-government in 1923, and the administration of Northern Rhodesia was transferred to the British colonial office in 1924 as a protectorate.

In 1953, both Rhodesias 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 insistent 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.

At independence, despite its considerable mineral wealth, Zambia faced major challenges. Domestically, there were few trained and educated Zambians capable of running the government, and the economy was largely dependent on foreign expertise. Abroad, three of its neighbors--Southern Rhodesia and the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola--remained under white-dominated rule. Rhodesia's white-ruled government unilaterally declared independence in 1965. In addition, Zambia shared a border with South African-controlled South-West Africa (now Namibia). Zambia's sympathies lay with forces opposing colonial or white-dominated rule, particularly in Southern Rhodesia. During the next decade, it actively supported movements such as the Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA), the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC), and the South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO).

Conflicts with Rhodesia resulted in the closing of Zambia's borders with that country and severe problems with international transport and power supply. However, the Kariba hydroelectric station on the Zambezi River provided sufficient capacity to satisfy the country's requirements for electricity. A railroad to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, built with Chinese assistance, reduced Zambian dependence on railroad lines south to South Africa and west through an increasingly troubled Angola.

By the late 1970s, Mozambique and Angola had attained independence from Portugal. Zimbabwe achieved independence in accordance with the 1979 Lancaster House agreement, but Zambia's problems were not solved. Civil war in the former Portuguese colonies generated refugees and caused continuing transportation problems. The Benguela Railroad, which extended west through Angola, was essentially closed to traffic from Zambia by the late 1970s. Zambia's strong support for the ANC, which had its external headquarters in Lusaka, created security problems as South Africa raided ANC targets in Zambia.

In the mid-1970s, the price of copper, Zambia's principal export, suffered a severe decline worldwide. Zambia turned to foreign and international lenders for relief, but as copper prices remained depressed, it became increasingly difficult to service its growing debt. By the mid-1990s, despite limited debt relief, Zambia's per capita foreign debt remained among the highest in the world.

GOVERNMENT
Zambia became a republic immediately upon attaining independence in October 1964. The constitution promulgated on August 25, 1973, abrogated the original 1964 constitution. The new constitution and the national elections that followed in December 1973 were the final steps in achieving what was called a "one-party participatory democracy."

The 1973 constitution provided for a strong president and a unicameral National Assembly. National policy was formulated by the Central Committee of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the sole legal party in Zambia. The cabinet executed the central committee's policy.

In accordance with the intention to formalize UNIP supremacy in the new system, the constitution stipulated that the sole candidate in elections for the office of president was the person selected to be the president of UNIP by the party's general conference. The second-ranking person in the Zambian hierarchy was UNIP's secretary general.

In December 1990, at the end of a tumultuous year that included riots in the capital and a coup attempt, President Kaunda signed legislation ending UNIP's monopoly on power. In response to growing popular demand for multi-party democracy, and after lengthy, difficult negotiations between the Kaunda government and opposition groups, Zambia enacted a new constitution in August 1991. The constitution enlarged the National Assembly from 136 members to a maximum of 158 members, established an electoral commission, and allowed for more than one presidential candidate who no longer had to be a member of UNIP. The constitution was amended again in 1996 to set new limits on the presidency (including a retroactive two-term limit, and a requirement that both parents of a candidate be Zambian-born). The National Assembly is comprised of 150 directly elected members, up to eight presidentially appointed members, and a speaker. Zambia is divided into nine provinces, each administered by an appointed deputy minister who essentially performs the duties of a governor.

The Supreme Court is the highest court and the court of appeal; below it are the high court,magistrate's court, and local courts.

Principal Government Officials
President--Levy Mwanawasa
Vice President--Enoch Kavindele
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Kalombo Mwansa
Ambassador to the United States--Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika
Ambassador to the United Nations--Prof. Mwelwa Musambachime

Zambia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2419 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-265-9717/8/9).

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The major figure in Zambian politics from 1964 to 1991 was Kenneth Kaunda, who led the fight for independence and successfully bridged the rivalries among the country's various regions and ethnic groups. Kaunda tried to base government on his philosophy of "humanism," which condemned human exploitation and stressed cooperation among people, but not at the expense of the individual.

Kaunda's political party--the United National Independence Party (UNIP)--was founded in 1959 and was in power under Kaunda's leadership from 1964 to 1991. Before 1972, Zambia had three significant political parties--UNIP, the African National Congress, and the United Progressive Party (UPP). The ANC drew its strength from western and southern provinces, while the UPP found some support among Bemba-speakers in the copperbelt and northern provinces. Although not strongly supported in all areas of the country, only UNIP had a nationwide following.

In February 1972, Zambia became a one-party state, and all other political parties were banned. Kaunda, the sole candidate, was elected president in the 1973 elections. Elections also were held for the National Assembly. Only UNIP members were permitted to run, but these seats were sharply contested. President Kaunda's mandate was renewed in December 1978 and October 1983 in a "yes" or "no" vote on his candidacy. In the 1983 election, more than 60% of those registered participated and gave President Kaunda a 93% "yes" vote.

Growing opposition to UNIP's monopoly on power led to the rise in 1990 of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). The MMD assembled an increasingly impressive group of important Zambians, including prominent UNIP defectors and labor leaders. During the year, President Kaunda agreed to a referendum on the one-party state but, in the face of continued opposition, dropped the referendum and signed a constitutional amendment making Zambia a multi-party state. Zambia's first multi-party elections for parliament and the presidency since the 1960s were held on October 31, 1991. MMD candidate Frederick Chiluba resoundingly carried the presidential election over Kenneth Kaunda with 81% of the vote. To add to the MMD landslide, in the parliamentary elections the MMD won 125 of the 150 elected seats and UNIP the remaining 25. However, UNIP swept the Eastern Province, gathering 19 of its seats there.

By the end of Chiluba's first term as president (1996), the MMD's commitment to political reform had faded in the face of re-election demands. A number of prominent supporters founded opposing parties. Relying on the MMD's overwhelming majority in parliament, President Chiluba in May 1996 pushed through constitutional amendments that eliminated former President Kaunda and other prominent opposition leaders from the 1996 presidential elections. In the presidential and parliamentary elections held in November 1996, Chiluba was re-elected, and the MMD won 131 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly. Kaunda's UNIP party boycotted the parliamentary polls to protest the exclusion of its leader from the presidential race, alleging in addition that the outcome of the election had been predetermined due to a faulty voter registration exercise. Despite the UNIP boycott, the elections took place peacefully, and five presidential and more than 600 parliamentary candidates from 11 parties participated. Afterward, however, several opposition parties and non-governmental organizations declared the elections neither free nor fair. As President Chiluba began his second term in 1997, the opposition continued to reject the results of the election amid international efforts to encourage the MMD and the opposition to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Early in 2001, supporters of President Chiluba mounted a campaign to amend the constitution to enable Chiluba to seek a third term of office. Civil society, opposition parties, and many members of the ruling party exerted sufficient pressure on Chiluba to force him to back away from any attempt at a third term.

Presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections were held on December 27, 2001. Eleven parties contested the elections. The elections encountered numerous administrative problems. Opposition parties alleged that serious irregularities occurred. Nevertheless, MMD presidential candidate Levy Mwanawasa was declared the victor by a narrow margin, and he was sworn into office on January 2, 2002. Three parties submitted petitions to the High Court, challenging the election results. The petition remained under consideration by the courts in February 2003. Opposition parties won a majority of parliamentary seatsin the December, 2001 election, but subsequent by-elections gave the ruling MMD a slim majority in Parliament..

ECONOMY
Zambia is one of Sub-Saharan Africa's most highly urbanized countries. About one-half of the country's 10 million people are concentrated in a few urban zones strung along the major transportation corridors, while rural areas are underpopulated. Unemployment and underemployment are serious problems. Per capita annual incomes are currently at about one-half their levels at independence, and at $302, place the country among the world's poorest nations. Social indicators continue to decline, particularly in measurements of life expectancy at birth (about 35 years) and maternal and infant mortality (95 per 1,000 live births). The high population growth rate of 2.3% per annum makes it difficult for per capita income to increase. The country's rate of economic growth cannot support rapid population growth or the strain which HIV/AIDS related issues (i.e., rising medical costs, decline in worker productivity) places on government resources.

The Chiluba government (1991-2001) came to power after democratic multi-party elections in November 1991 committed to an economic recovery program. The government was successful in some areas such as privatization of most of the parastatals, maintenance of positive real interest rates, the elimination of exchange controls, and endorsement of free market principles. It remains to be seen whether the new Mwanawasa government will be more aggressive in implementing economic reform and undertaking further privatization. Telecommunications, electricity, and transport parastatals still need to be privatized before the economy can compete regionally and internationally. Furthermore, Zambia has yet to address effectively issues such as reducing the size of the public sector, which still represents 44% of total formal employment, and improving Zambia's social sector delivery systems.

After the government privatized the giant parastatal mining company Zambian Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), donors resumed balance-of-payment support. The final transfer of ZCCM's assets occurred on March 31, 2000. Although balance-of-payment payments are not the answer to Zambia's long-term debt problems, it will in the short term provide the government some breathing room to implement further economic reforms. The government has, however, spent much of its foreign exchange reserves to intervene in the exchange rate mechanism. To continue to do so, however, would jeopardize Zambia's debt relief. Zambia qualified for HIPC debt relief in 2000, contingent upon the country meeting certain performance criteria, and this should offer a long-term solution to Zambia's debt situation. In January 2003, the Zambian Government informed the IMF and World Bank that it wished to renegotiate some of the agreed performance criteria calling for privatization of the Zambia National Commercial Bank and the national telephone and electricity utilities.

The Zambian economy has historically been based on the copper-mining industry. Output of copper had fallen, however, to a low of 228,000 tonnes in 1998, continuing a 30-year decline in output due to lack of investment, and more recently, low copper prices and uncertainty over privatization. In 2001, the first full year of a privatized industry, Zambia recorded its first year of increased productivity since 1973. The future of the copper industry in Zambia was thrown into doubt in January 2002, when investors in Zambia's largest copper mine announced their intention to withdraw their investment.

Lack of balance-of-payment support meant the Zambian Government did not have resources for capital investment and periodically had to issue bonds or otherwise expand the money supply to try to meet its spending and debt obligations. The government continued these activities even after balance-of-payment support resumed. This has kept interest rates at levels that are too high for local business, fueled inflation, burdened the budget with domestic debt payments, while still falling short of meeting the public payroll and other needs, such as infrastructure rehabilitation. The government was forced to draw down foreign exchange reserves sharply in 1998 to meet foreign debt obligations, putting further pressure on the kwacha and inflation. Inflation held at 32% in 2000; consequently, the kwacha lost the same value against the dollar over the same period. In mid- to late 2001, Zambia's fiscal management became more conservative. As a result, 2001 year-end inflation was below 20%, its best result in decades. In 2002 inflation rose to 26.7%.

The agriculture sector represented 20% GDP in 2000. Agriculture accounted for 85% of total employment (formal and informal) for 2000. Maize (corn) is the principal cash crop as well as the staple food. Other important crops include soybean, cotton, sugar, sunflower seeds, wheat, sorghum, millet, cassava, tobacco and various vegetable and fruit crops. Floriculture is a growth sector, and agricultural nontraditional exports now rival the mining industry in foreign exchange receipts. Zambia has the potential for significantly increasing its agricultural output; currently, less than 20% of its arable land is cultivated. In the past, the agriculture sector suffered from low producer prices, difficulties in availability and distribution of credit and inputs, and the shortage of foreign exchange.

There are, however, positive macroeconomic signs, rooted in reforms implemented in the early and mid-1990s. Zambia's floating exchange rate and open capital markets have provided useful discipline on the government, while at the same time allowing continued diversification of Zambia's export sector, growth in the tourist industry, and procurement of inputs for growing businesses. Some parts of the copperbelt have experienced a significant revival as spin-off effects from the massive capital reinvestment are experienced.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
Zambia is a member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now known as the African Union, and was its chairman until July 2002, Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which is headquartered in Lusaka.

President Kaunda was a persistent and very visible advocate of change in Southern Africa, supporting liberation movements in Angola, Namibia, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and South Africa. Many of these organizations were based in Zambia during the 1970s and 1980s.

President Chiluba assumed a somewhat higher profile internationally in the mid- and late 1990s. His government played a very constructive regional role sponsoring Angola peace talks that led to the 1994 Lusaka Protocols. Zambia has provided troops to UN peacekeeping initiatives in Mozambique, Rwanda, Angola, and Sierra Leone. Zambia was the first African state to cooperate with the International Tribunal investigation of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In 1998, Zambia took the lead in efforts to establish a cease-fire in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Zambia was active in the Congolese peace effort after the signing of a cease-fire agreement in Lusaka in July and August 1999, although activity diminished considerably after the Joint Military Commission tasked with implementing the ceasefire relocated to Kinshasa in September 2001.

DEFENSE
The Zambian Defense Force (ZDF) consists of the army, the air force, and Zambian National Service (ZNS). The ZNS, while operating under the Ministry of Defense, is responsible primarily for public works projects. The ZDF is designed primarily for internal defense.

U.S.-ZAMBIAN RELATIONS
Bilateral relations between Zambia and the United States improved dramatically with the 1991 election of President Chiluba on a platform of economic and political reform. The United States made extensive new aid commitments based on the government's reform efforts. As the 1996 elections approached, government's commitment to democratic development weakened when President Chiluba signed into law constitutional amendments eliminating his best-known opponent from the presidential elections. The new government elected in 2001 has stated an explicit commitment to governance issues such as corruption.

The United States has worked closely with the Zambian Government to defeat the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is ravaging Zambia and to effect constitutional, parliamentary, and electoral reform needed to strengthen the nation's emerging democratic institutions. United States also is supporting the government's efforts to root out corruption.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
The United States has a substantial foreign assistance program in Zambia. Through USAID, the U.S. Government provides about $47 million every year in assistance to Zambia. This is being provided under USAID's Country Strategic Plan (CSP) for the period 1998-2003, which focuses on ensuring that more Zambians benefit from the political and economic reforms ushered in with the change of government in 1991.

USAID assistance is focused in the following four areas and is being implemented in partnership with the Zambian Government, the Zambian private sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as U.S. private organizations and other partners:

  • Increased incomes of selected rural groups;
  • More equitable access to quality basic education and learning, especially for girls;
  • Increased use of integrated child and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS interventions; and
  • Expanded opportunity for effective participation in democratic governance
USAID is in the process of designing a new CSP that will form the basis for development assistance to Zambia from 2004 to 2010. The new strategy will focus on the following strategic objectives:
  • Increased private sector competitiveness;
  • Improved quality of basic education for more school-aged children;
  • Improved health status of Zambians;
  • Government held more accountable; and
  • Reduced impact of HIV/AIDS through a multi-sectoral response
In addition to supporting development projects, the United States has provided considerable emergency food aid during periods of drought through the World Food Program (WFP) and is a major contributor to refugee programs in Zambia through the UN High Commission for Refugees and other agencies.

Peace Corps
A country agreement inviting the Peace Corps to work in Zambia was signed by the United States and Zambia on September 14, 1993. The first group of volunteers was sworn in on April 7, 1994. In 2003, the Peace Corps program in Zambia continues to provide an opportunity for increased understanding between Zambians and Americans. More than 120 Volunteers are promoting sustainable development through their activities in agricultural and natural resource management, health and sanitation, education, and humanitarian assistance. Volunteers are working in eight of Zambia's nine provinces building local capacity to manage family fish farms, to manage and preserve wildlife resources, to implement health reforms at village level, to introduce interactive radio instruction for primary school children, and to extend HIV/AIDS education efforts. Recently, a Crisis Corps Program was resumed to support local organizations in the fight against AIDS. Volunteers live primarily in rural villages in remote parts of the country without running water, electricity, or other amenities. New trainees undertake training in local language, culture, and the relevant technical specialty for 9-12 weeks at a center in the copperbelt.

In 2003 Peace Corps expanded its offices and staff in Lusaka in preparation for program growth in ensuing years with the aim of fielding 175 Volunteers by 2005.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Martin Brennan
Deputy Chief of Mission--Dan Mozena
Public Affairs Officer--James Greene
Political/Economic Officer--Katherine Dhanani
Consular Officer--Leslie C. Livingood
Defense Attache--Lt. Col. Leslie Bryant
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--David Nelson
USAID Mission Director--Allan Reed
Peace Corps Director--Brian Cavanagh

The U.S. Embassy in Zambia is at the corner of Independence and United Nations Avenues (P.O. Box 31617), Lusaka. Tel: 260-1- 250955; fax 260-1-252225).

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.



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