Economist Intelligence Unit Forecasts Substantial Political Instability In Zambia


In the latest report by the Economist Intelligence Unit they have forecast substantial threats to Zambia’s political stability owing to “unusual degree of social division and political intolerance under the presidency of Edgar Lungu”.

The same report downgraded Zambia’s score on the Democracy Index, deteriorating sharply from 5.99 in 2016 to 5.68. This has lowered the country’s global ranking in the index from 77th (out of 167 countries) to 85th.

“Zambia will face substantial threats to political stability in 2018-22. Much of this stems from what is for Zambia an unusual degree of social division and political intolerance under the presidency of Edgar Lungu. Given the widespread perception among the opposition that corruption is worsening and Zambia is descending into authoritarianism, pent-up frustration could spark serious turbulence,”
EIU has stated.

“For example, unrest is likely to break out when the Constitutional Court delivers its verdict on whether Mr Lungu is eligible to stand for another term in the 2021 election; the date for the verdict has not been given. If another term is deemed unconstitutional, Mr Lungu has himself publicly warned the Constitutional Court of chaos. So if the ruling goes against him, disturbances could be severe enough to prompt a political crisis, but as the president appoints Constitutional Court judges, such a verdict is unlikely. But clear politicisation of the judicial process also means that a ruling deeming him eligible to stand again is likely to be perceived as tainted by the opposition.”

Any related unrest is likely to be in the form of opposition protests, the EIU states, potentially on a large scale and involving low-level violence.

It also highlighted a decline in functioning of government, which saw the steepest decline, already seen as a weakness for Zambia, with the score falling from 5.36 to five.

“Accountability of public officials has always been low, but checks and balances on the executive were shown to be seriously flawed after the leader of the opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, was arrested for treason at the president’s request. The charges against him were widely seen as farcical and later dropped, although the episode underscored an unhealthy level of executive authority in Zambia. The other category to see a score change was civil liberties, with the score dropping from 6.76 in 2016 to 6.47. This again reflects inordinate interference in the judicial system, namely warnings from the president to the Constitutional Court that ‘chaos’ would ensue if it rejected his eligibility for a third term,”

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