Containing the Mushala Rebellion: Strategies and Challenges, 1976-1990

  • Thokozile Shaba Kaala Secondary School
Keywords: Adamson Mushala, Rebellion, Counter action, Insurgents.


This article examines how the Zambian government responded to the Mushala rebellion in North Western Province between 1976 and 1990. The Mushala rebellion was the consequence of Mushala’s dissatisfaction with President Kaunda’s one-party system, which limited political opposition by force or coercion. His insurgence was also fuelled by Kaunda’s refusal to accord Mushala the position of Director of Game and Fisheries. He was further dissatisfied with what he perceived as government’s failure to fulfil the people’s expectations of national and economic development. In particular, Mushala was infuriated with the marginalisation of the people of North Western Province, a situation he attributed to government’s failure to develop the province. He also wanted political power. The article investigates the strategies and measures the government enacted to contain the rebellion and the challenges it faced in suppressing the revolt. The article argues that the government adopted a two-pronged strategy aimed at winning the cooperation of the local people in its efforts to track down the insurgents, while simultaneously using coercive measures to suppress the rebellion. The article concludes that this strategy was not without its problems. The use of coercive measures, for example, alienated the local population from the government. The locals were thus unwilling to provide critical intelligence about Mushala’s activities. This contributed to the government’s failure to end the rebellion speedily.