Liberalism as a manifestation of the ideals and values of Zambia’s Southern Province:The United Party for National Development and the promotion of self-reliance through social welfare
Year: 2019 Working paper number: 437 Author:Courtney Hallink Unit: CSSR
Despite the impressive rise of the United Party for National Development (UPND) on the Zambian political scene since its formation in 1998, little academic research has been conducted on the party. This paper examines how self-identified liberal politicians in the UPND adapt liberalism to Zambia’s ideological, political and socio-economic context in order to tackle the challenges of poverty and unemployment through social welfare policy. It draws from semi-structured interviews conducted with Members of Parliament (MPs) and party officials, in addition to content analysis of official party documents. It demonstrates that liberalism and ideas about the role of the state in tackling poverty and unemployment are largely rooted in the unique culture of small-scale farmers in Southern Province and the normative value placed on self-reliance and individual economic achievement. This means that interventions that are perceived to contribute to self-reliance – such as education, health care and agricultural input subsidies – are prioritized over Social Cash Transfers (SCTs), which are targeted towards households without able-bodied individuals. The approach to liberalism articulated by members of the UPND is further shaped by the dominance of the hegemonic ideology of non-interventionist developmentalism; the existence of a social welfare system that is designed around the objectives of empowerment and self-reliance; and the UPND’s rural support base.