Freedom in the World
You are here
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Zambia’s civil liberties rating declined from 3 to 4 due to new legal restrictions on the activities of nongovernmental organizations.
The government and ruling party stepped up pressure on civil society and the media in 2009, including passing a law that increases restrictions on the activities of nongovernmental organizations. Former president Frederick Chiluba, found guilty of corruption in a British high court in 2007, was acquitted of the charges and has enjoyed a political rehabilitation at the hands of President Rupiah Banda. Meanwhile, two foreign governments suspended funding to Zambia’s health sector in the wake of corruption scandals in the ministry of health.
Despite substantial progress from 2004–2007, economic growth slowed in 2008 and 2009 owing to the global economic recession. Increases in the global price of copper in 2009 may generate improvements in 2010, however. Zambia experienced considerable debt relief in 2005 and 2007, and has obtained substantial investment in recent years from China. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2008 pledged $79 million to support poverty alleviation and economic growth, and in 2009, it agreed to provide over $250 million to strengthen and stabilize the kwacha.
Zambia is an electoral democracy. While local and international observers declared the 2008 presidential elections to be free and fair, opposition parties and civil society groups raised concerns about fraud, including the printing of additional ballot papers and the incumbent’s use of state resources for campaigning. The president and the unicameral National Assembly are elected to serve concurrent five-year terms. The National Assembly includes 150 elected members, as well as 8 members appointed by the president.
Societal discrimination remains a serious obstacle to women’s rights. Domestic violence and rape are major problems, and traditional norms inhibit many women from reporting assaults. Women are denied full economic participation and usually require male consent to obtain credit. Discrimination against women is especially prevalent in customary courts, where they are considered subordinate with respect to property, inheritance, and marriage. In 2005, an amended penal code banned the traditional practice of “sexual cleansing,” in which a widow is obliged to have sex with relatives of her deceased husband. In an alleged effort to intimidate members of civil society, Vice President George Kunda stated in 2009 that the government could prosecute the known homosexuals in the country using legislation passed in 2005 against homosexuality.