Democracy and rights
Respect for human rights in Zambia has
decreased in recent years. For example, anyone who
criticizes the president on Facebook may end up in
Zambia is a constitutional democracy with several
political parties and general elections. But in
practice, democracy works poorly. The 2016 election, won
by the incumbent ruling party, was riddled with
violence, restrictions on the press and the use of state
funds for campaigning (see Current Policy). Opposition
in the country is subject to regular harassment and it
happens that leading politicians are arrested and
charged with slander or other crimes.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Zambia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The right to freedom of assembly is enshrined in the
Constitution, but is in practice circumscribed by the
ordinance that requires a scheduled meeting to be
reported to the police with seven days' notice. Permits
are often denied. Civil society organizations are
vibrant but work in a difficult environment where they
must seek new permits every five years.
Formally, women have the same rights as men. However,
society is characterized by gender stereotyped values
and practices that make the woman's position
subordinate to that of the man (see Social conditions).
Requirements that anyone who wishes to run for a
political assignment must have an education equivalent
to a high school diploma constitutes an obstacle for
many women. The proportion of women in Zambia's
parliament is slightly below the average for sub-Saharan
African countries. Since the 2016 election, 18 percent
of MPs are women. Zambia got its first female vice
president in January 2015 when Inonge Wina, former
Minister for Child and Gender Equality, was appointed.
Same-sex sexual acts are punishable and the minimum
sentence is 15 years in prison. LGBTQ people generally
cannot live openly.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution
and is also followed in practice. At the same time, the
Constitution states that Zambia is a Christian nation.
During MMD's time in power (1991–2011), the
government in various ways made the opposition's ability
to work more difficult. For example, parties and
organizations were often denied permission to hold
demonstrations and the opposition found it difficult to
make its voice heard in the media. Similar criticisms
have also been directed at PF when the party came into
office in 2011.
In 2014, Zambia was ranked 67th out of 165 countries
in The Economist magazine's assessment of how democratic
the countries of the world are. The investment was an
improvement over 2010 when Zambia was in place 91. That
investment was worse than most of Zambia's neighboring
countries, with the exception of Zimbabwe.
Corruption is widespread in society. Both individual
organizations and the media report suspected cases. An
anti-corruption authority makes investigations that
sometimes lead to prosecution and conviction. In 2019,
Zambia ranked 113th out of the 180 countries assessed by
the Transparency International organization in its
annual review of world corruption (see ranking list
here). As a result, Zambia was in the better half among
the African countries.
Media and freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Constitution,
but not freedom of the press. However, freedom of
expression can be restricted in order not to jeopardize
the security of the country or the general morality.
Expressing something that can be interpreted as
insulting the president is illegal. In 2018, a doctor
was sentenced to seven years in prison for having the
president on his Facebook.
State TV and radio often act as a propaganda agency
for the government and journalists who dare to be
critical of the government risk harassment and
ill-treatment. In 2018, Derrick Sinjela, editor-in-chief
of a newspaper that revealed corruption in the Supreme
Court, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Reporters Without Borders estimates that the
situation for press freedom has greatly deteriorated in
Zambia over the past five years. The organization places
the country in place 113 in its ranking of 180
The government monitors electronic communications and
periodically closes the opposition's websites.
The corruption is extensive. Transparency
International places Zambia in place 105 in its ranking
of perceived corruption in 180 countries. In 2018,
several major donor countries, including Sweden, decided
to withdraw aid after the US $ 4.5 million disappeared
within the ministry. The president responded by
immediately kicking two ministers, but by the end of
2018, no person had yet been charged.
Judiciary and legal security
According to the Constitution, the courts are
independent in relation to the executive power, but the
latter exerts informal pressure and often has a real
influence on the judiciary, for example, the president
appoints the seven judges of the Supreme Court.
Through a constitutional amendment in 2016, a
constitutional court was also formed, which, in addition
to purely constitutional issues, also handles disputes
in connection with general elections. The fact that the
Constitutional Court is equated with the Supreme Court
is considered to be able to pray for legal ambiguities.
The legal security of the individual is neglected by
human rights organizations. Long detention times are a
widespread problem. Regime critics appear to be harassed
by police and government loyalists. Arbitrary arrests
are common. Police are often accused of corruption and
accused of using brutal methods, including torture, in
connection with interrogations. On several occasions
shooting has occurred in connection with demonstrations.
Very few complaints against police officers lead to
It seems that politicians are held accountable for
crimes committed during the term of office, but this is
unusual and often appears politically motivated. The
very long processing times in the poorly resourced
justice system in practice create an amnesty for the
powerful and influential in society. The World Justice
Project ranks Zambia 92 in its index of the rule of law
in 126 countries in 2019.
The conditions in the overcrowded prisons are
substandard. Torture at interrogation occurs according
to the country's Commission on Human Rights. The death
penalty has not been abolished but has not been
sentenced for many years and no executions have been
carried out since 1997.
President Mwanawasa wins the election
President Mwanawasa wins the election with 43 percent of the vote against 29
percent for Michel Sata from the Patriotic Front (PF) and 25
percent for Hakainde Hichilema from the United Democratic Alliance (UDA).
In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, MMD again becomes the
largest party with 72 seats. The second largest is PF with 44 seats while UDA
comes in third place with 27 seats. The turnout is 71 percent.
The president suffered a stroke
President Levy Mwanawasa suffers from stroke but is quickly back on his feet,
explaining that he plans to run for re-election in September of that year.