African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 385

Full Length Research Paper

When party policies do not matter: Examination, the ambivalence of voting behaviors in the Zambian presidential elections

Greg Gondwe
  • Greg Gondwe
  • College of Media, Communication and Information, University of Colorado, United States.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 August 2017
  •  Accepted: 01 November 2017
  •  Published: 31 January 2018


Debates on whether people in Zambia cast their votes for a presidential candidate based on the good policies of the party or the qualifications of their candidate are peppered with tales of ethnicity, tribalism, corruption, and the education levels of the voters. These problems have undermined the credibility of the winning candidates as being put into office based not on their qualifications, but on the desire for individual voters to have someone of their tribe as president. While some scholars have argued that people are not naïve to vote for a candidate irrationally, others hanker on the fact that party policies are barely known to the Zambian voter who takes different forms of communal identities. The two approaches underscore the nascent debates of voting behaviors in Zambia today. Therefore, the aim of the study is to examine the voting behaviors of Zambians in the 2011 Zambian presidential election. Quantitative evidence suggests that party policies and manifestos in the Zambian elections do not matter because people base their votes on ethnic alignments.

Key words: Ethnicity, language, education, party policies, manifesto, Michael Sata, Hakainde Hichilema.