United National Independence Party

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from UNIP)
Jump to: navigation, search
United National
Independence Party
Leader Tilyenji Kaunda
Founder Mainza Chona
Founded October 1959 (October 1959)
Ideology African socialism
African nationalism
Political position Left-wing
National Assembly
0 / 157
Pan African Parliament
0 / 5
Demonstrations by the United National Independence Party (UNIP) during the visit of Iain Macleod (1960)

The United National Independence Party (UNIP) is a political party in Zambia. It governed the country from 1964 to 1991 under the presidency of Kenneth Kaunda, and was the sole legal party between 1973 and 1990.


The party was founded in October 1959 as a successor to the Zambian African National Congress, which had been banned earlier in the year. It was initially led by Mainza Chona as ZANC leader Kaunda had been imprisoned, but upon his release from jail in January 1960, Kaunda assumed the party's leadership.[1]

In the 1962 general elections the party won 14 seats, making it the second largest party behind the European-dominated United Federal Party (UFP). However, although Northern Rhodesian African National Congress leader Harry Nkumbula had made a secret electoral pact with the UFP, he later opted to form a government with UNIP. After a convincing victory in the 1964 elections, in which UNIP won 55 of the 75 seats, Kaunda became Prime Minister of Northern Rhodesia, leading the country to independence on 24 October 1964, at which point he became President.[2]

In the 1968 general elections Kaunda was re-elected president with 82% of the vote, whilst UNIP won 81 of the 105 elected seats in the National Assembly.[2]

In 1973 the country became a one-party state with UNIP as the sole legal party; an amended constitution was promulgated on 25 August 1973, with the 1973 elections described as the final steps in achieving what was called a "one-party participatory democracy." National policy was formulated by the Central Committee of UNIP. According to the constitution, UNIP's president was selected at the party's general conference, and the second-ranking person in the Zambian hierarchy was UNIP's secretary general. The constitution also stipulated that UNIP's president was the sole candidate for president of the republic; he was confirmed in office every five years via a yes/no referendum. Voters chose between multiple UNIP candidates for the 125 parliamentary seats, with three candidates running in each constituency. Kaunda was confirmed as president with 89% of the vote.[2] Elections were held under the same system in 1978, 1983 and 1988, with Kaunda receiving at least 80% of the vote each time.

At the end of 1990 multi-party democracy was reintroduced, and UNIP was roundly defeated in the 1991 general elections by the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD); Kaunda was defeated in the presidential vote by MMD candidate Frederick Chiluba, receiving just 24% of the vote, whilst in the National Assembly elections UNIP won 25 seats to the MMD's 125.[2]

Following changes to the constitution which effectively barred Kaunda from running for president again, UNIP boycotted the 1996 elections, although two members contested National Assembly seats. The party returned to contest the 2001 elections with Kenneth Kaunda's son, Tilyenji, as its presidential candidate; he received 10% of the vote, finishing fourth out of the eleven candidates. In the National Assembly elections the party won 13 seats.[2]

Prior to the 2006 elections the party joined the United Democratic Alliance alongside the other two largest opposition parties. United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema was the alliance's presidential candidate, finishing third. The alliance won just 26 seats in the National Assembly, down from the 74 the three parties had won in 2001.

UNIP did not contest the 2008 presidential by-election, but nominated Tilyenji Kaunda as its presidential candidate for the 2011 elections. Kaunda received less than 1% of the vote, finishing sixth in a field of ten candidates. The party also failed to win a seat in the National Assembly, receiving only 0.7% of the vote.[2] Kaunda ran in the 2015 presidential by-election, but again received less than 1% of the vote. Tilyenji Kaunda remained the party's presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections, but he received only 0.24% of the vote, with the party again failing to win a seat in the National Assembly.


  1. ^ Zambia : History The Commonwealth
  2. ^ a b c d e f Elections in Zambia African Elections Database

External links[edit]

Media related to United National Independence Party at Wikimedia Commons