China’s increased clout in Africa has emerged at a time when the continent’s democraticevolution is at cross roads. Most African countries embraced democracy and open marketeconomies only in the 1990s, after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and endof the cold war. Progress towards consolidation of democracy and respect for humanrights has been poor in most African countries, due to the narrow depth of internaldemocratic forces, and high levels of poverty. Most of the democratic concessionsobtained in Africa in the 1990s were in fact obtained with the help of westerngovernments, which relied on conditional economic support. Many African countrieshave, nevertheless, been trying to leave behind their brutal past of dictatorship, economicchaos and decline. Among the principle objectives of the African Union, for example, are promotion of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights. Under thesecircumstances, what are the implications of Chinese economic presence in Africa for international relations, consolidation of democracy, and respect for human rights? Toaddress, these questions, we ought to examine Chinese policies towards Africa and itsinteraction with that continent. We should also bear in mind that poverty in Africa is pervasive, and has hardly spared any one, including the political leaders. The Chinese areaware of this, and are preying on the poverty of many African political leaders.
Background to Zambia
Zambia was called Northern Rhodesia when it was a British colony. It was grantedindependence on 24
October, 1964. After 8 years of multi-party democratic rule, thecountry descended into a One Party Socialist State, and changed for the worse, from oneof the most promising middle-income African countries in the early 1970s, to one of the poorest in the world by the late 1980s. The country reverted to a free market economyand multi-party political system in 1991, after the wind of change that swept away thedictatorial regimes of Eastern Europe. Like many other African countries, however,Zambia has found it difficult to consolidate democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. In consequence, Zambia has also found it difficult to attract genuineinvestors and has become the prey of the rogue Chinese investors that have no regard for the welfare of those that are unfortunate enough to work for them, let alone the countriesthat have allowed them to exploit their natural resources and people.3