Zambia: Cornmeal and Democracy

Cornmeal and Democracy

Cornmeal, Zambia's staple food, long cost just 5 cents a pound. But two weeks ago, the government hiked the price to 12 cents as part of an austerity drive, and the effect on Zambians, who earn on average only $21 a month, was incendiary. Riots erupted in major cities last week, and in Lusaka, the capital, street battles between protesters and security forces left 45 people dead and 153 injured.

Prices were not the only issue. Critics of longtime President Kenneth Kaunda accused his government of corruption and poor management, which, combined with the 1974 collapse of copper prices, has made...

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