Regional and ethnic politics: a historical study of party politics in Zambia, 1948 to 2011.
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The post-independence political landscape of Zambia has been characterised by incidences of ethnicity and regionalism in party politics. However, ethnicity has not been the main defining factor in party preferences. Accordingly, there has been an important debate on whether some political parties were perpetuating ethnic politics. This study finds that, like elsewhere in a multiethnic country, the voting pattern in different provinces was not significantly different. Available evidence suggests that candidates usually performed better in the regions where they hailed from. While this was mainly the case in most elections, particularly at the presidential level, some political parties in general and politicians in particular applied the ethnic tag as a strategy of weakening their opponents‟ political base while at the same time mobilising support for their parties. Under such circumstances, the ethnic label was used as a political resource. This study sought to examine the operations of different political parties in a multiethnic country. The study also finds that although all political parties may have ethnic elements, some parties were more prone than others. In addition, the study holds that, other than being used as a political resource, other external factors were at play. These included the portrayal of these parties by the media. The media tended to project the ruling parties as being national in character while prominent opposition parties were projected as being ethnic or regional in orientation. This study concluded that there were other crucial factors in determining party preferences other than ethnicity or regionalism. There was no conclusive evidence that the failure by either the ANC or UPND to ascend to power had been due to their ethnic character but rather the perception and portrayal that they were ethnic parties.
The University of Zambia