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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'The Hour Has Come at the Pit': The Mineworkers' Union of Zambia and the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, 1982-1991
Author:Larmer, MilesISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Zambia
Subjects:political opposition
trade unions
Movement for Multiparty Democracy
Labor and Employment
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070600656234
Abstract:The role of Zambia's mineworkers and their union in the 1990-1991 Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) is an important example of mass participation in pro-democracy movements. 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-organized underground political opposition in the late 1980s, which provided Chiluba with an unrivalled support base in the MMD. Mineworkers resisted the cooption of their union into UNIP structures, utilizing rank-and-file organization 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-mobilization, 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. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]