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‘The Hour Has Come at the Pit’: The Mineworkers' Union of Zambia and the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, 1982–1991

‘The Hour Has Come at the Pit’: The Mineworkers' Union of Zambia and the Movement for... The study of civil society's role in pro-democracy movements in sub-Saharan Africa has generally neglected the underlying motivations informing mass participation in such movements. The role of Zambia's mineworkers and their union in the 1990–91 Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) is an important example of such participation. Frederick Chiluba's accession to the MMD leadership and to the Zambian presidency rested on his leadership of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which was in the vanguard of opposition to the ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP) from the late 1970s. Chiluba's authority, however, was based on the resonance of his critique of UNIP with urban workers, in particular its implementation of structural adjustment policies. Mineworkers' willingness to challenge UNIP's practical authority in the economically strategic copper mines was rooted in the failure of the postcolonial political settlement to adequately meet their expectations for social and economic change. Their resultant discontents led some to participate in ZCTU-organised underground political opposition in the late 1980s, which provided Chiluba with an unrivalled support base in the MMD. Mineworkers resisted the co-option of their union into UNIP structures, utilising rank-and-file organisation to challenge and to remove leaders perceived as close to the ruling party. The consciousness that informed this participation – a distrust of leadership, a reliance on workplace and community-based self-mobilisation, and a belief in their right to adequate recompense for their harsh and nationally important labour – was, in mineworkers' support for the MMD, abandoned in favour of a belief that a political party led by a trade unionist would address their expectations. The experience of Zambia's mineworkers provides instructive parallels with the dilemmas facing unions engaged in political alliances in southern Africa and beyond. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Southern African Studies Taylor & Francis

‘The Hour Has Come at the Pit’: The Mineworkers' Union of Zambia and the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, 1982–1991

Journal of Southern African Studies , Volume 32 (2): 20 – Jun 1, 2006
20 pages

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References (21)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright The Editorial Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies
ISSN
1465-3893
eISSN
0305-7070
DOI
10.1080/03057070600656234
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The study of civil society's role in pro-democracy movements in sub-Saharan Africa has generally neglected the underlying motivations informing mass participation in such movements. The role of Zambia's mineworkers and their union in the 1990–91 Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) is an important example of such participation. Frederick Chiluba's accession to the MMD leadership and to the Zambian presidency rested on his leadership of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which was in the vanguard of opposition to the ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP) from the late 1970s. Chiluba's authority, however, was based on the resonance of his critique of UNIP with urban workers, in particular its implementation of structural adjustment policies. Mineworkers' willingness to challenge UNIP's practical authority in the economically strategic copper mines was rooted in the failure of the postcolonial political settlement to adequately meet their expectations for social and economic change. Their resultant discontents led some to participate in ZCTU-organised underground political opposition in the late 1980s, which provided Chiluba with an unrivalled support base in the MMD. Mineworkers resisted the co-option of their union into UNIP structures, utilising rank-and-file organisation to challenge and to remove leaders perceived as close to the ruling party. The consciousness that informed this participation – a distrust of leadership, a reliance on workplace and community-based self-mobilisation, and a belief in their right to adequate recompense for their harsh and nationally important labour – was, in mineworkers' support for the MMD, abandoned in favour of a belief that a political party led by a trade unionist would address their expectations. The experience of Zambia's mineworkers provides instructive parallels with the dilemmas facing unions engaged in political alliances in southern Africa and beyond.

Journal

Journal of Southern African StudiesTaylor & Francis

Published: Jun 1, 2006

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