United National Independence Party

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United National
Independence Party
Leader Tilyenji Kaunda
Founder Mainza Chona
Founded October 1959 (October 1959)
Ideology Socialism
Political position Centre-left to Left-wing
National Assembly
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Pan African Parliament
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Politics of Zambia
Political parties

The United National Independence Party (UNIP) is a political party in Zambia. It governed that country from 1964 to 1991 under the presidency of Kenneth Kaunda.


Early history[edit]

The party was founded in October 1959 and was initially led by Mainza Chona. On January 1960, Kaunda was released from prison and assumed leadership over the party. UNIP won the pre-independence elections, and formed the first government of Zambia in 1964. The constitution was altered and promulgated in August 25, 1973, and the national elections that followed in December 1973 were the final steps in achieving what was called a "one-party participatory democracy." National policy was formulated by the Central Committee of UNIP, which had become the sole legal party in Zambia. 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.

Demonstrations by the United National Independence Party (UNIP) during the visit of Iain Macleod (1960)

Kenneth Kaunda was the sole candidate, and 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 93% gave President Kaunda a "yes" vote.

Recent history[edit]

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. The changed constitution allowed for more than one presidential candidate who no longer had to be a member of UNIP.

It lost power to Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in 1991. In the intervening years, UNIP has become increasingly marginalized as a party in Zambia. This is due in part to UNIP's boycott of the 1996 elections, called in protest of a constitutional amendment that was passed to bar former president and party head, Kenneth Kaunda from running in the Presidential election. The consequent election resulted in an absolute majority for MMD in parliament, and the virtual exclusion of UNIP from government for five years.

At the legislative elections on 27 December 2001, the party won 10.4% of popular votes and 13 out of 150 seats in parliament. Its candidate at the presidential elections, Tilyenji Kaunda (son of Kenneth), on the same day won 10.1%.

UNIP was briefly led by Francis Nkhoma but he was replaced by Tilyenji Kaunda. UNIP joined an alliance with the United Party for National Development and the Forum for Democracy and Development. On 2 August 2006, the alliance chose newcomer former Grant Thornton partner/managing director Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND as its presidential candidate, relegating UNIP to play a background role in the 2006 election.


External links[edit]

Media related to United National Independence Party at Wikimedia Commons