Zambia: 1964 Elections

Extracted from: KAELA, LCW 2002 "Zambia" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 377-378.

The elections held in January 1964 heralded the beginning of the era of independence. They also marked the culmination of painstaking negotiations over a new constitution that would usher in black majority rule. The laws governing these elections were:

  • The Zambia Independence Order, 1964;
  • Zambia (Election of First President Order), 1964;
  • Northern Rhodesia (Electoral Provisions) Order, 1963;
  • Electoral Provisions (Qualifications of Voters) Regulations;
  • Electoral Provisions (Registration of Voters) Regulations; and
  • The National Assembly (Election) Regulations

The qualifications for voters as set out in the Electoral Provisions (Qualifications of Voters) Regulations, were for the first time based on the principle of the universal franchise, with the minimum voting age set at 21 years. Zambian citizens as well as British subjects and other non-Zambians who met certain residence qualifications were also entitled to vote. For National Assembly elections, there were 65 main roll and 10 reserved roll constituencies, each returning one member. "Africans" were registered as main roll voters and "Europeans" as reserved roll voters. Those who were neither Africans nor Europeans were given the option of choosing the roll on which they would be registered.

The registration of voters and the elections were conducted by a hierarchy of election officials headed by the Chief Electoral Officer who, with his deputy, was appointed by the Governor. District Commissioners acted as electoral officers for the polling districts in their areas. They divided their areas into polling districts and designated polling stations and registration centres for those districts. They also appointed presiding officers and polling assistants. Returning officers were appointed by the chief electoral officer.

A total of 1 379 804 people registered as voters. This represented 92% of eligible voters. The independence constitution provided for indirect election of the president. National Assembly candidates indicated the presidential candidate of their choice and the votes they received were simultaneously considered to be votes for the choice for president. In the elections held in January 1964 UNIP [United National Independence Party] won 56 and ANC 9 [African National Congress] National Assembly seats. UNIP's leader, Kaunda, became the first president upon attainment of independence in October 1964. The elections were contested by nationalist parties on a platform of promises for a better future economically and socially - the "fruits of independence".