Zambia embraced plural politics in 1991. The multi-party democracy has, however, not yet brought stable and mature politics and governance to the country. Almost two decades after its introduction, it is still not clear whose interests Zambian politics really serve. The country’s citizens have largely remained spectators in the development process of their country, with little opportunities to be engaged in the decisions that rule their lives.
Civic organisations and individual citizens have made efforts to enhance the political involvement of ordinary people. In this research two such initiatives are analysed: the Oasis Forum, anchored in the campaign against the unconstitutional third-term bid by the country’s president in 2001; and the Citizens Forum, born in 2004 out of the realisation that so many citizens were not participating in running the affairs of their country.
The two are membership organisations, but different. While the Oasis Forum members are organisations – namely, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) – the Citizens Forum comprises individual members.
This paper documents the history of the two organisations, discusses the strategies they have used in their campaigns, as well as some significant challenges encountered through the years.