Evaluating privatisation in Zambia: a tale of two processes

Craig, John (2000) Evaluating privatisation in Zambia: a tale of two processes. Review of African Political Economy, 27(85), pp. 357-366. ISSN (print) 0305-6244


The programme of state enterprise privatisation pursued by the Zambian government since 1992 has been subject to a number of conflicting evaluations. For some it is a model programme, ‘the most successful in Africa’ (Campbell White and Bhatia, 1998), which stands as an example to other developing countries. For others, it is a deeply flawed experience which allowed for the corrupt acquisition of assets by those linked to the ruling party. This paper argues that these conflicting evaluations are the result of two underlying processes which reflected the political and economic environment in which the policy was implemented. This required the Zambian government to balance, on the one hand, the demands of northern donors and the Bretton Woods institutions that international capital should be provided with an attractive and secure environment for investment and, on the other hand, those in the ruling party's domestic constituency who regarded privatisation as an opportunity for personal accumulation.

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