Movement for Multiparty Democracy

Published 19th August, 2011

The Movement for Multiparty Democracy or MMD started life in 1990 as an informal alliance of groups opposed to the single party state of the then ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP).

In December 1990 the group became a formal party and in February 1991 Frederick Chiluba, head of the Zambian Congress of Trade Unions, became its first elected party president. In the 1991 election Chiluba comfortably defeated Kenneth Kaunda who had ruled for the previous 27 years and the MMD took 125 of the 158 seats in the National Assembly.

Despite deep unpopularity at its IMF directed economic policies and splits amongst the ranks, the MMD went on to win the 1996 general election, taking 131 of 159 seats in the National Assembly whilst Chiluba held on to the presidency. Part of that success came about because the UNIP and some other opposition parties chose to boycott the election.

Chiluba’s record in office led to greater criticism and widespread unrest. There were further splits from the party and Chiluba was thwarted from changing the constitution and standing for a third term. In 2001 Chiluba was replaced by Levy Mwanawasa who won the presidential election and the MMD was the largest party with 69 of 159 seats in the National Assembly.

In 2006 both Mwanawasa and the MMD did slightly better. Mwanawasa won 43% of the vote, nearly 14 percentage points ahead of his closest rival and the MMD won 75 of 159 seats.

In 2008 Mwanawasa was involved in a car accident and died later of a stroke. A presidential election was called and his vice president, Rupiah Banda won with 40.09% of the vote in a very narrow win against Patriotic Front candidate Michael Sata.

The MMD describes itself as a centre left party.

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