Contention and Mutual suspicion: Civil Society in Zambian Politics

The principal aim of this paper is to critically examine the relationship of local non-governmental organisations with Zambian governments under Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), and the Patriotic Front (PF).   This paper is based primarily on field studies conducted in Zambia in 2010 and 2011, during which over 20 in-depth interviews were conducted with politicians, representatives of civil society, university workers and representatives of the mining industry. Additionally, the authors combined experience in Zambia spans over three years, including primary experience in relations between the NGO/AID field and local government from 2011-2014. The research process was guided by social constructivist epistemology, and the major finding is that relations between the MMD and later the PF government, and advocacy NGOs were characterized by mutual distrust, and mutual accusations of a lack of transparency and legitimacy, The NGOs were mainly employing a ‘name and shame’ strategy whilst engaging the government, which together with the government’s suspicious attitude towards NGOs created a specific ideational structure of mistrust and mutual suspicion. This dynamic has been extremely difficult to break, and is the dominant influence on government – NGOs relations. The commodity cycle, and the wealth and poverty it brings has also played a vital role in determining these relations, as they thaw and freeze depending on the boom/bust of the market.

Andrzej Polus . University of Wroclaw .

David Berger . University of Wroclaw .

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