- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Zambia, one of Africa's first post-colonial democracies, sent a delegation to Washington this month to take notes on how a democracy works during a political convention.

"What impressed me," said Zambian Information Minister Newstead L. Zimba, "was the magic moment when President Clinton embraced Al Gore to symbolize the transfer of Democratic Party leadership."

The event Mr. Zimba described happened in Monroe, Mich., following Mr. Clinton's own farewell address to the convention but before Mr. Gore arrived in Los Angeles to accept the nomination.

Zambia is led by President Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), who came to power in 1991 after an election that unseated Zambia's independence leader, Kenneth Kaunda.

Mr. Chiluba has ruled for two terms and is ineligible to run for the presidency again.

Yet when Benjamin Mwila, an MMD leader and a relative of Mr. Chiluba's, announced his candidacy for the top party post this summer, the Zambian leader had him expelled from the party.

"The MMD members, like those in any political party, have to play by the rules," Mr. Zimba said in an interview. "Mr. Mwila announced his candidacy without seeking party approval."

Zambia under Mr. Chiluba has undergone a transformation from a state-managed economy to one where the private sector is dominant, particularly in the large copper-led mining sector.

Together with an effort to meet International Monetary Fund austerity dictates, privatization has caused widespread job layoffs.

The country also has an external debt of $6 billion, massive for a relatively small nation of about 10 million people. While in Washington, Mr. Zimba and others in the delegation met U.S. officials to argue that debt forgiveness is essential to democratic development.

The Clinton administration has promised to wage a campaign for debt reduction for African and other Third World nations. Zambia has more than $100 million in interest payments coming due soon.

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