Researching the politics of development



Cities and dominance: Urban strategies for political settlement maintenance and change – Zambia case study

Working paper 136

Download pdf

Marja Hinfelaar, Danielle Resnick and Sishuwa Sishuwa
This paper tracks how the Patriotic Front (PF) – Zambia’s main opposition from 2006 to 2011, when the party won power – shifted its strategies of dealing with the urban poor, civil society and the middle class, in order to manage its vulnerability. While all three groups fully supported the PF in 2011, they are now in a more ambivalent position, thereby creating insecurity for the ruling regime. We contextualise these dynamics vis-à-vis Zambia’s broader political landscape, from 2001 to date, relying on historical processing tracing, in-depth interviews with key elite actors and a survey with informal traders. Using the case study of the PF, the paper demonstrates how political settlements can deepen the analysis of how and why particular strategies for dominance emerge in a given context, where the threats to this dominance emerge, and why governing elites target particular groups for co-optive or coercive interventions. It concludes that, due to its size and influence, the PF’s hold on Lusaka is crucial to its survival past the 2021 elections. Consequently, it is anticipated the party will continue to exert repressive pressure on sources of countervailing power and opposition and co-opt poorer but numerically large support bases (e.g. marketeers and vendors)