Kaunda was a teacher at the Upper Primary School and Boarding Master at Lubwa and then Headmaster at Lubwa from 1943 to 1945. He left Lubwa for Lusaka to become an instructor in the army but was dismissed. He was for a time working at the Salisbury and Bindura Mine. In early 1948, he became a teacher in Mufulira for the United Missions to the Copperbelt (UMCB). He was then assistant at an African Welfare Centre and Boarding Master of a Mine School in Mufulira. In this period, he was leading a Pathfinder Scout Group and was Choirmaster at a Church of Central Africa Congregation. He was also for a time Vice-Secretary of the Nchanga Branch of Congress.
While Kaunda was in prison, Mainza Chona and other nationalists broke away from the ANC and, in October 1959, Chona became the first president of the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the successor to ZANC. However, Chona did not see himself as the party's main founder. When Kaunda was released from prison in January 1960 he was elected President of UNIP. In July 1961 Kaunda organized a civil disobedience campaign in Northern Province, the so called Cha-cha-cha campaign, which consisted of burning schools and blocking roads. Kaunda ran as a UNIP candidate during the 1962 elections. This resulted in a UNIP–ANC Coalition Government, with Kaunda as Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare. In January 1964 UNIP won the General Election under the new Constitution beating the ANC under Nkumbula. Kaunda was appointed Prime Minister. On 24 October 1964 he became the first President of independent Zambia. Simon Kapwepwe was appointed as the first Vice President.
The University of Zambia was opened in Lusaka in 1966, after Zambians all over the country had been encouraged to donate whatever they could afford towards its construction. Kaunda was appointed Chancellor and officiated at the first graduation ceremony in 1969. The main campus was situated on the Great East Road, while the medical campus was located at Ridgeway near the University Teaching Hospital. In 1979 another campus was established at the Zambia Institute of Technology in Kitwe. In 1988 the Kitwe campus was upgraded and renamed the Copperbelt University, offering business studies, industrial studies and environmental studies. The University of Zambia offers courses in agriculture, education, engineering, humanities and social sciences, law, medicine, mining, natural sciences, and veterinary medicine. The basic program is four years long, although engineering and medical courses are five and seven years long, respectively.
Other tertiary-level institutions established during Kaunda's era were vocationally focused and fell under the aegis of the Department of Technical Education and Vocational Training. They include the Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce and the Natural Resources Development College (both in Lusaka), the Northern Technical College at Ndola, the Livingstone Trades Training Institute in Livingstone, and teacher-training colleges.
Following in the steps of the Soviet Union, Zambia instituted a program of national development plans, under the direction of the National Commission for Development Planning: the Transitional Development Plan) was followed by the First National Development Plan (1966–71). These two plans, which provided for major investment in infrastructure and manufacturing, were largely implemented and were generally successful. This was not true for subsequent plans.
A major switch in the structure of Zambia's economy came with the Mulungushi Reforms of April 1968: the government declared its intention to acquire an equity holding (usually 51% or more) in a number of key foreign-owned firms, to be controlled by the Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO). By January 1970, Zambia had acquired majority holding in the Zambian operations of the two major foreign mining corporations, the Anglo American Corporation and the Rhodesia Selection Trust (RST); the two became the Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines (NCCM) and Roan Consolidated Mines (RCM), respectively. Kaunda announced the creation of a new parastatal body, the Mining Development Corporation (MINDECO). The Finance and Development Corporation (FINDECO) allowed the Zambian government to gain control of insurance companies and building societies. The foreign-owned banks, such as Barclays, Standard Chartered and Grindlays, successfully resisted takeover. In 1971, INDECO, MINDECO, and FINDECO were brought together under an omnibus parastatal, the Zambia Industrial and Mining Corporation (ZIMCO), to create one of the largest companies in sub-Saharan Africa, with Kaunda as Chairman of the Board. The management contracts under which day-to-day operations of the mines had been carried out by Anglo American and RST were ended in 1973. In 1982 NCCM and RCM were merged into the giant Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd (ZCCM).
Unfortunately for Kaunda and Zambia, these programs of nationalization, even assuming they could have worked, were ill-timed. Events that were beyond their control would wreck the country's plans for national development. In 1973 the massive increase in the price of oil was followed by a slump in copper prices in 1975 and a diminution of export earnings. In 1973 the price of copper accounted for 95% of all export earnings; this halved in value on the world market in 1975. By 1976 Zambia had a balance-of-payments crisis, and rapidly became massively indebted to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Third National Development Plan (1978–83) had to be abandoned as crisis management replaced long-term planning.
By the mid-1980s Zambia was one of the most indebted nations in the world, relative to its gross domestic product (GDP). The IMF was insisting that the Zambian government should introduce programs aimed at stabilizing the economy and restructuring it to reduce dependence on copper. The proposed measures included: the ending of price controls; devaluation of the kwacha (Zambia's currency); cut-backs in government expenditure; cancellation of subsidies on food and fertilizer; and increased prices for farm produce. Kaunda's removal of food subsidies caused massive increases in the prices of basic foodstuffs; the country's urban population rioted in protest. In desperation, Kaunda broke with the IMF in May 1987 and introduced a New Economic Recovery Programme in 1988. However, this did not help him and he eventually moved toward a new understanding with the IMF in 1989. In 1990, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (on which Kaunda’s ideology, Zambian Humanism had been fashioned) , Kaunda was forced to make a major policy shift: he announced the intention to partially privatize the parastatals. However, these changes came too late to prevent his fall from power, which was largely the result of the economic troubles.
Becoming increasingly intolerant of opposition, Kaunda banned all parties except UNIP, following violence during the 1968 elections. In 1972, he made Zambia a one-party state, probably because he was worried by Simon Kapwepwe's decision to leave UNIP and found a rival party, the United Progressive Party, which Kaunda immediately banned. Next, he appointed the Chona Commission, which was set up under the chairmanship of Mainza Chona in February 1972. Its task was to make recommendations for the constitution of a 'one-party participatory democracy' (i.e. a one-party state). The Commission's terms of reference did not permit it to discuss the pros and cons of Kaunda's decision. The sole surviving opposition party, the ANC, boycotted the Commission and unsuccessfully challenged the constitutional change in the courts. The Chona report was based on four months of public hearings and was submitted in October 1972. It was widely regarded as a 'liberal' document. Finally, Kaunda neutralised Nkumbula by getting him to wind-up the ANC, join UNIP and sign a document called the Choma Declaration on 27 June 1973. The ANC ceased to exist after the dissolution of parliament in October 1973. Allegedly Kaunda "bought off" Nkumbula by offering him an emerald mine.
With no more opposition against him, Kaunda allowed the creation of a personality cult. He developed a left nationalist-socialist ideology, called Zambian Humanism. This was based on a combination of mid-twentieth-century ideas of central planning/state control and what he considered basic African values: mutual aid, trust and loyalty to the community. Similar forms of African socialism were introduced inter alia in Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah ("Consciencism") and Tanzania by Julius Nyerere ("Ujamaa"), while in Zaire, President Mobutu Sese Seko was at a loss until he hit on the ideal ideology - 'Mobutuism'. To elaborate his ideology, Kaunda published several books: Humanism in Zambia and a Guide to its Implementation, Parts 1, 2 and 3. Other publications on Zambian Humanism are: Fundamentals of Zambian Humanism, by Timothy Kandeke; Zambian Humanism, religion and social morality, by Cleve Dillion-Malone S.J. andZambian Humanism: some major spiritual and economic challenges, by Justin B. Zulu.
On 25-26 August 1976, Kaunda met with the Prime Minister of South Africa, B.J. Vorster at Victoria Falls and again on 30 April 1982 with Prime Minister, Pieter Willem Botha on the Botswana border to discuss the political situation in South West Africa and South Africa. However, he did not manage to get serious concessions from the South African government. Kaunda was criticised in the African press for talking to representatives of the apartheid regime.
During the Cold War, Kaunda was a strong supporter of the Non-Aligned Movement. He hosted a NAM summit in Lusaka in 1970 and served as the movement’s chairman from 1970 to 1973. He maintained a close friendship with Yugoslavia's long-time leader Tito and is remembered by many former citizens of Yugoslavia for weeping openly over his casket in 1980. He even had a house built in Lusaka for Tito's visits to the country. Kaunda had frequent but cordial differences with US President Ronald Reagan whom he met 1983 and Margaret Thatcher mainly over what he saw as the West's blind eye to apartheid. He always maintained warm relations with the People's Republic of China who had provided assistance on many projects in Zambia including the TAZARA Railway.
In the late 1980s prior to the first Gulf War Kaunda developed a friendship with Saddam Hussein with whom he struck various agreements to supply oil to Zambia. He named streets in Saddam's honour (Saddam Hussein blvd., now Los Angeles blvd.). During the events that led to the Gulf War, Saddam became increasingly isolated.
In August 1989 Farzad Bazoft was arrested in Iraq for alleged espionage. He was accompanied by a British nurse, Daphne Parish who was arrested as well. Bazoft was an Iranian born British freelance journalist who was about to expose Saddam's gassing of the Kurds. Bazoft was later tried, sentenced to death and executed. Parish was sentenced to 15 years in prison. But in 1990 just as the Gulf War was about to break out Kaunda successfully managed to negotiate the release of Parish with Saddam.. Kaunda served as chairman of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) from 1970 to 1973.
After that charade, the rest of the Zambian population was given the opportunity to express approval or disapproval of the sole candidate's nomination by voting either "Yes" or "No". Since the presidential "election" was always accompanied by parliamentary elections, there was great pressure placed on parliamentary candidates to "campaign" for the president's "Yes" vote, in addition to their own campaigns. Parastatals companies (which were controlled through ZIMCO - Zambia Industrial and Mining Corporation) were also under pressure to "campaign" for Kaunda by buying advertising space in the two national newspapers (Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail) exhorting the electorate to give the president a "massive 'Yes' vote".
The parliamentary elections were also controlled by Kaunda: the names of candidates had to be submitted to UNIP's Central Committee, which then selected three people to stand for any particular constituency. Anyone could be vetoed without the Central Committee giving any reason, since UNIP was supreme and its decisions were unchallengeable. Using these methods, Kaunda kept any enemies at bay by ensuring that they never got into political power.
This was the tactic he used when he saw off Nkumbula and Kapwepwe's challenges to his sole candidacy for the 1978 UNIP elections. On that occasion, the UNIP's constitution was "amended" overnight to bring in rules that invalidated the two challengers' nominations: Kapwepwe was told he could not stand because only people who had been members for five years could be nominated to the presidency (he had only rejoined UNIP three years before); Nkumbula was outmaneuvered by introducing a new rule that said each candidate needed the signatures of 200 delegates from each province to back his candidacy. Less creative tactics were used on a third candidate called Chiluwe; he was just beaten up by the UNIP Youth Wing to within an inch of his life. This meant that he was in no state to submit his nomination.
After retiring, he has been involved in various charitable organizations. From 2002 to 2004, he was an African President in Residence at Boston University.
Recently, he was seen in the attendance of an episode of Dancing With The Stars as Kaunda is an avid ballroom dancer.
On 19 October 2007 Kaunda was the recipient of the 2007 Ubuntu Award
Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda to Open Boston University Conference on Africa and the Global Economy.
Sep 23, 2002; Byline: Boston University BOSTON, Sept. 23 (AScribe Newswire) -- Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda will deliver the keynote...