On 25 February, 1972 President Kenneth Kaunda announced to the Nation
“the Government has decided that Zambia shall become a One-Party Participatory Democracy and that the choice of a One-Party system was by means of a legislative fiat.” It has been difficult to understand the significance of the words “Participatory” and “democracy” after the proclamation of One-Party system for Zambia. A critical examination of the words Participatory and Democracy shows them as superfluous in the context. But they may also show that Kaunda was at pains to demonstrate that he did not intend to introduce Dictatorship in Zambia through the One-Party system of government.
The pains that Kaunda went through to explain this form of government can be seen through the Organization of Elections. For example, the electoral arrangements introduced during the One-Party system of government did not enhance known democratic principles and practices. In the 1973 Constitution, the number of parliamentary constituencies was increased from 105 to 125. The necessary requirements for candidature included Ability to Speak English fluently, Membership of UNIP and not to have been convicted of a criminal offence. In addition, a candidate had to be a Zambian citizen and over the age of twenty-one. In the election, all Zambian citizens aged over eighteen years and above were eligible to vote provided they were registered as voters.
Despite the negative and aggressive nature reported about the One-Party system of government during the Second Republic, the system practiced some democratic tenets which are proud to call democracy today. It must be noted that the Central Committee of UNIP was as powerful as the Central Government itself. If any there was not distinction between the Party and Government at that time.
Zambian Political Landscape has surely undergoing a lot of transformations and more are yet to come
Critics to this day still say that the declaration of the On-Party State by His Excellency Dr Kenneth David Kaunda was the introduction of dictatorship in the country. However, Kaunda and the UNIP felt that it was a move to unite a country that was slow disintegrating because of the internal tribal factions that were forming in the country. Dating back to 1968, Kaunda had resigned as a President for a night just to quell the tribal fire that was blewing in the country. This is the move that resulted in the coining of the One Zambia One Nation motto which to this day is still usefully serving the country. Kaunda had looked at how other countries in the region and Africa at large had become politically unstable and he didn’t want that to happen in Zambia.
So the One Party State democracy was only open to UNIP members and the stated qualifications were to be adhered to strictly