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UCLG COUNTRY PROFILES

Republic of Zambia
Capital: Lusaka
Inhabitants: 11.668.000 (2005)
Area: 752.618 km

1. Introduction

(MPs) also serve for a five year term. The


president is empowered by the constitution
to nominate 10 members of parliament.
S/He appoints his vice president and
cabinet from the MPs but s/he can also
appoint them from the nominated MPs
although these should not be more than
five.

Zambia is a unitary state located in


southern Africa.
It is a former British
colony which got its independence in
October 1964.
Zambia is a landlocked
country and has eight neighbors i.e.
Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to the
south, Angola to the West, Mozambique,
Malawi to the east and south east and
Congo DR and Tanzania to the North (see
figure 1 below). At the last census in 2000
the population of Zambia stood at 10.6m
with about 43% of the population living in
urban areas. The Country has an area of
about 752, 600 km2.

In addition to the National Assembly,


Zambia also has a house of chiefs which
comprises 27 chiefs, 3 from each province
which acts as an advisory body on
traditional
and
customary
matters.
Administratively, Zambia is divided into
nine provinces i.e. Copperbelt, Central,
Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western,
Lusaka, North-western and Luapula. Each
of the nine provinces is headed by a
Provincial Minister (equivalent to a Deputy
Minister) appointed by the President. The
provincial administration also has a
secretariat headed by the provincial
permanent secretary.

The President is both head of state and


government and is directly elected through
national presidential and parliamentary
elections every five years, on the basis of
first past the post. According to the
constitution a President can only serve for
two terms. The parliament, known as the
national assembly if the president is in
attendance, is unicameral and has 150
elected members each representing a
constituency. The members of parliament

History of Local Government


The history of local government show that,
its in 1990 that the one party era came to
an end and in the elections of 1991 a new
party came into power. The 1980 local
administration Act has become irrelevant
since it was premised on a one party
system. Thus, in December 1991 a new
Act came into force and it was called the

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Local Government Act (cap 281 of 1991).


The new act brought the following
changes:
(i)
The
Ministry
of
Decentralisation became the Ministry of
Local Government and Housing and was
responsible for Local Government while
Cabinet
office
was
responsible
for
provincial and district administration; (ii) a
Deputy
Minister
(appointed
by
the
President) became the political head of the
province and was assisted by the Provincial
Permanent Secretary who headed the
secretariat; (iii) the dual system of district
administration was re-introduced; (iv) the
local government elections were also reintroduced
and
the
Mayor/Council
Chairperson replaced the district governor
while the Town Clerk/Council secretary
replaced the District Executive Secretary;
(v) in 1995 the government introduced the
national,
provincial
and
district
development coordinating committees to
coordinate development activities; (vi) in
2000 the government introduced the
position of District Administrator (DA the
name
later
changed
to
District
Commissioner) who was appointed by and
reported to the President and headed the
field administration.

2. Current State Structures


Figure 2 below shows the current
government structures and the relationship
between the three levels of government
i.e. the Centre, the province and the
districts. As indicated above, the district
(which is currently the main level at which
service
is
delivered)
has
a
dual
administration i.e. the field administration
of Central Government (represented by
departments of line ministries such as
Education, Health Agriculture, Works and
supply etc).
The two systems have
separate
reporting
lines:
The
field
administration
staff
report
to
their
ministries
through
the
provincial
administration headed by the Provincial

Figure 1: The Local and Central Government


Structures

Central Government
(CG)

Central Government
(Ministry of Local

(Line Ministries headed by Ministers)

Government and
Housing (MoLGH)

Provincial
Government
(Headed by Deputy
Minister)

Provincial Local
Government Officer
(PLGO)

CG Field
Administration
(Headed by District
Commissioner (DC)
appointed by CG)

Local Authority
(Headed by elected
Mayor and Council
Chair)

Sub-district
structures
Ward Development
committee (WDC)
Residents
Developmt.
Committee (RDC)

Permanent Secretary while the councils


report directly to their parent Ministry, i.e.
Local Government and Housing (MoLGH).
The Provincial Local Government Officer
(PLGO) has some very limited powers
based on what the Minister delegates to
him or her. The field administration is
headed by the District Commissioner while
the Council is headed by the Mayor/Council
Chairperson.
In terms of local government Zambia has a
single tier system comprising three types
of councils, namely: City, Municipal and
District Councils. Currently, Zambia has a
total of 72 councils. There are 4 city
councils, Kitwe, Ndola, Livingstone and
Lusaka. These have an average population

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of 511,000 with Livingstone being the


smallest at 158,149 and Lusaka the largest
at 1,103,413. There are 14 municipal
councils which have an average population
of 168, 640 with Kalulushi being the
smallest at 72,765 and Chipata the largest
at 362,132. There are 54 district councils
in the country which have an average
population of 112,199. Petauke is the
largest district council with a population of
242,533 while Luangwa is the smallest
with a population of 21,990. Below the
district is a myriad of sub district structures

3. Decentralization
Zambia has made two attempts to
decentralise local government before: in
1968 and 1980. In both cases however, no
meaningful decentralisation took place. The
origins of the current decentralisation
effort can be traced back to 1993 when the
republican President launched the Public
Sector Reform Programme (PSRP) whose
primary objective was to improve the
quality,
delivery,
efficiency
and
effectiveness of the public services. The
programme had three components i.e. (i):
Restructuring of the line ministries; (ii):
Management
and
human
resource
improvement, and (iii): Decentralisation
and strengthening of local government.
Decentralisation was therefore the third
component of the PSRP. The overall
strategy was to position the public sector
so that it facilitates private sector-led
growth. This was in keeping with the new
governments policy of moving the country
from being public sector led to market
orientation.
The policy formulation process of the
current decentralisation reform started in
1995
when
the
consultations
were
initiated. Extensive consultations with
different stakeholders were made between
1995 and 1998. These consultations

involved NGOs, Chiefs, Senior Bureaucrats,


Local bureaucrats, councillors, Donors and
the general citizenry and were done
through
seminars,
meetings
and
workshops. In 1998 when the draft
document went to Cabinet it stalled.
However,
after
the
2001
elections
government changed although the same
party retained power. There was a major
policy shift over decentralisation and
adoption of the policy was back to the top
of the agenda. Thus, in December 2002,
the
government
adopted
the
new
decentralization
policy
and
it
was
subsequently officially launched in August
2004 by the republican President. The
main thrust of this policy is devolution
although the process will start with
deconcentration where local authorities will
be given more functions while their
capacity is developed (Malama, 2003). This
means that the government intends to
radically change the central local relations
from that of master-servant to that of
partnership
where
councils
will
be
autonomous. The main driving force behind
the new policy is to give the people more
voice (through increased participation) in
the running of local affairs, which means
improved governance accountability. This
is made clear by the following quotation
from the policy document:
the vision of the government is to
achieve a fully decentralized and
democratically elected system of
governance characterized by open,
predictable and transparent policy
making
and
implementation
processes at all levels of the public
service, effective local community
participation in decision making
and
development
and
administration of their local affairs
while maintaining sufficient linkage
between
central
and
local
government

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Cabinet office set up the Decentralisation


Policy Implementation Committee (DPIC)
chaired by the Deputy Secretary to the
Cabinet to provide leadership and direction
on the implementation process. It draws its
membership
from
the
Permanent
secretaries whose ministries were deemed
to be affected by the decentralisation. A
Decentralisation Secretariat (DS) was set
up in August 2003 under the Cabinet
office. However, in January 2005 the DS
was moved to the MoLGH as it was felt
that the process of decentralisation had
stalled. There has not been much
improvement
in
the
process
of
implementation however, and there have
been calls to move it back to Cabinet
office. The problems with placing the DS in
the MoLGH have become quite obvious in
the recent past. Its proper co-ordination
with the other two components of the PSRP
has been difficult and it has all but
disappeared since it is hidden in the
bowels of one ministry. Additionally, the
nature of decentralisation is such that the
DS needs to be liaising with line ministries.
At the moment this can only happen by
working through the PS of the Ministry as
the Director of the DS is at a lower level.
The main output from the DS so far has
been
the
production
of
the
draft
Decentralisation Implementation Plan (DIP)
in February 2006. This is supposed to be
the definitive statement on the process of
implementation. The DIP document gives
10 years as the period for implementation
of the policy phases as follows:

Phase One: November 2002 to


December 2005 - Preparatory Phase

Phase Two: January 2006 to December


2010 Finalisation of the DIP and
beginning of its implementation which
will include a mid term review.

Phase Three: 2010


Consolidation Phase

to

2012

The design of the DS institutional set up


was determined administratively by the

Government. It is unlikely that in future


this will be written into law as the general
view is that the DS is just a temporary
vehicle
being
used
to
facilitate
implementation of decentralisation.

4. Territorial organization
Territorial levels of government and their
nature
As indicated above, Zambia has three
levels of government: Central government,
provincial
administration
and
local
administration. Each of the 9 provincial
administration headquarters is headed a
deputy minister (appointed and answerable
to the president) assisted by a permanent
secretary who is head of the secretariat
and coordinates government activities in
the province. Additionally, in each province
are provincial heads of department who act
as the link between the district and central
line ministries. These are answerable to
their sector ministries on technical matters
while administratively they are supervised
by the provincial permanent secretary on
day to day activities.
In order to improve the operations of the
provincial
administration,
central
government
created
the
Provincial
Development
Coordinating
Committee
(PDCC) whose main function is to
coordinate
the
planning
and
implementation of developmental activities
in the province. It draws its membership
from the DDCCs and provincial sector
ministry officers and is chaired by the
provincial Permanent Secretary. The main
role of the provincial administration is to
coordinate activities of the districts in their
territory. But the province also plays an
important
function
in
development
planning. Firstly, each province has a
provincial planning office. According to the
Town and Country Planning Act (cap 283)

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of 1997, rural councils are not planning


authorities and this function is performed
by the provincial planning office. The urban
councils however, have been given the
status of planning authority by the same
act. Secondly, the PDCC has a critical role
to play in decentralized development
planning as they act as the link between
the DDCCs and the National Development
Coordinating Committee (NDCC). The
government has used these structures to
develop the fifth National Development
Plan which is due to be launched at the end
of July 2006.
Table 1 shows the distribution of urban and
rural Local Authorities as well as the
population in each of the nine provinces of
Zambia. Although there are only 18 urban
councils they hold almost half the total
population of the country an indication of
the high level of urbanization in Zambia.
The Copper belt province has by far the
highest number of urban councils as it is
the most urbanized province in the country
with its urbanization standing at 80%. It
also has the largest population of all the
provinces followed by Lusaka province.
Table 1: The Distribution of Local
Authorities and Population Per Province
Province

No. of Local
Authorities

Population

Urban

Rural

Central

1,006,766

Copperbelt

1,657,646

Eastern

1,300,973

Luapula

784,613

Lusaka

1,432,401

Northern

11

1,407,088

North
Western

610,975

Southern

1,302,660

Western

782,509

18

54

Total

10,285,631

Source: commonwealth local government


forum source book (2004)

Territorial reform
The implementation of the decentralization
policy will entail some reform to the
provincial administration.
The policy
envisages a much stronger role to be
performed by the province in development
planning by giving legal backing to the
PDCCs which currently they do not have.
Although it is not clear what structure the
province will take, it is expected that since
more functions will be performed by the
district after devolution there will be
transfer of line ministry staff to local
authorities.
This might mean a leaner
structure at the province although its
functions will largely remain the same but
with a much stronger role.
The Local Government Act stipulates the
composition of the council as follows:

Members of Parliament in the district;

Two representatives of the chiefs,


appointed by all Chiefs in the district.
This was meant to involve traditional
rulers in local governance, and

All the elected councilors in the district.

Since councils are a body corporate


capable of suing and being sued they have
recourse to the law if there rights are
breached. However, they are protected by
law from bailiffs.

5. Oversight on local Government


The
inter-governmental relations are
regulated by the Local Government Act.
The act gives the Central Government
supervisory powers over Local Government
and the Local Authorities (as already
indicated above) report to the Ministry of
Local Government and Housing which is
the parent ministry through the Permanent
Secretary or the Minister. The Local
Government Act gives the Ministry of Local

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Government and Housing very wide


ranging powers, for example, section 88
(1) empowers the Minister of Local
Government and Housing to suspend or
dissolve a council and appoint a Local
Government Administrator in its place if
the council refuses, fails or is unable to
adequately discharge all or any of its
functions. The Local Government Act also
provides
for
the
provincial
local
government officer (PLGO) in each
province whose main function is to oversee
the activities of Local Authorities. For
financial oversight each province has a
provincial
local
government
auditor
(PLGA). The law does not distinguish in
terms of independent scrutiny between the
capital city and the other local authorities.

6. Local Government Institutions


and local Democracy
The election of the local representatives or
councilors is regulated by the Local
Government Elections Act cap 282 of 1992.
Since 1991 the elections have been
pluralistic and any party is free to field
candidates and even individuals are free to
stand as independents.
Previously,
councilors used to serve on three year
terms but that was increased to five in
February 2004 in order to bring local
government elections in line with the
presidential and parliamentary elections.
The council which is a body of elected
officials act as a board of directors who
oversee the functioning of the local
authority. The day to day activities are
done of behalf of council by officials
employed by the council. The Local
Government Act empowers the council to
appoint employees for the purpose of
assisting the council in the discharge of its
mandate. Since 1996, the councils have
the authority to hire and fire staff and they
have the authority to determine their own

procedures for hiring staff as long as it


does not contravene the law.
All adult citizens are eligible to vote in the
local government elections as long as they
register as voters and the winner is
declared on a first-past-the-post basis.
However, the Mayor or council chairperson
is elected by councilors from amongst
themselves. This is set to change once the
decentralization policy is implemented as
the Mayors and chairpersons will also be
elected by universal suffrage and will have
executive powers which currently they do
not have. Currently, the system of
elections being used is one of democracy
by majority.
There is no proportional
representation
although
the
draft
constitution has made a provision for this.
Currently, only about 7% of the councilors
are women.
The general attitude of citizens towards the
local politics is very poor. The turnout for
the 1998 elections (this was the last time
the local government elections were held
separately) was a very low 12%.
The
general citizenry also shun standing for
local government elections hence the
caliber of councilors has generally been
acknowledged to be poor (GTZ/UNDP;
2002). Even when making their lists
parties usually start with the parliamentary
lists which see much more competition
than the local elections. Local government
has a very poor image because most local
authorities
are
in
serious
financial
difficulties and do not provide any
meaningful services.
Currently, in many districts, there are no
sub district structures recognized by the
law.
The Village registration and
development Act of 1971 provided for the
setting
up
of
Ward
development
committees (WDC) in each ward but this is
only done in some rural areas. These are
chaired by the ward councilor and are
largely put together by him or her. Most

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peri-urban areas however, have Residents


Development Committees (RDCs) which
are not backed by the law. These are
preferred by donors and NGos as they are
considered to be non political. They are
established by councils who conduct
organise elections within the areas
affected.
Councillors sit on these
committees as ex-officios. Alongside these
structures, in rural areas, there exist
traditional rulers who have their own set
up to govern their subjects in line with
their traditional and customary law. The
new decentralisation policy has specifically
provided for the setting up of sub district
structure countrywide.
Lusaka is currently experimenting with egovernment although this is still in its
infancy. No other local authority has
implemented e-government.
The Local Government Association of
Zambia (LGAZ) is the only national
association for all local authorities in
Zambia. It was founded in 1947 and its
principal mission is to promote the
interests and enhance the rights and
autonomy of local authorities in Zambia.
Membership is voluntary and all 72
councils are members of the association. It
is
funded
through
membership
subscriptions. LGAZ has neither the legal
nor constitutional recognition although it is
widely
recognised
as
the
sole
representative of the interests of Local
authorities in Zambia. It is a member of
the Commonwealth Local Government
Forum and is affiliated to the Africa Union
of Local Authorities (AULA) and the United
Cities and Local Governments.

7. Local Finance
Local Authorities are empowered by the
Local government Act to raise finance
through local taxes such as personal levy
and property tax, although Central

Government has a say in the levels set for


these taxes. Councils are also empowered
through by-laws to raise revenue through
other levies hence a number of councils
have introduced grain levies, fish levies
etc. Central government also has a say in
the level set for the fees and charges.
Thus, although, local authorities have
responsibility over local taxes as well as
fees and charges they need approval from
central government. According to the 2002
(the latest available consolidated figures)
estimates the main sources of income for
local authorities based on aggregate
figures are:
a)
b)
c)
d)

Local Taxes
Fees and Charges
Other receipts
National Support

59%
18%
20%
03%

In 1992 the government stopped transfers


to urban councils although they do get ad
hoc
transfers
occasionally.
Generally
district (rural) councils get between 1%
and 3% of their total budgets from the
government.
Currently, no system or
formula for revenue sharing between
central and local governments exists.
Under section 45 (3) of the Local
government Act central government is
supposed to make specific grants to local
authorities for the following functions:

Water and Sanitation;

Health Services;

Fire Services;

Road Services;

Police Services;

Primary Education;

Agricultural Services;

In terms of total public expenditure, local


governments share has been around 3%
since the mid 1990s (Crook and Manor,
2001:p16).

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7. Local Responsibilities and


functions

8. Conclusion

Section 61 of the Local Government Act


gives powers to Local Authorities to
discharge the functions set out in schedule
II. These number about 63 and vary quite
widely from beer brewing to collection of
refuse. There is no differentiation in
functions between the different council
types.
Neither is there clarity on the
sharing of functions between the different
spheres of government. The functions are
divided into nine broad categories: general
administration, advertisement, agriculture,
community development, public amenities,
education, public health, public order and
sanitation and drainage1. These functions
are
largely
discretionary
and
not
mandatory.

Local
government
in
Zambia
has
undergone considerable change since 1991
which has led to the virtual collapse of
most councils. Almost all councils are
behind in paying salaries with some rural
councils failing to pay their staff for as long
a period as 18 months.
None of the
councils are in a position to provide
meaningful services.
Poor government
policies have seen to that. Some of the
most notable negative interventions from
government have been:

The cessation of intergovernmental


transfers to urban councils in 1993;

The sale of council housing in 1995 at


significantly below market value;

In 2002 (the latest available consolidated


figures) the expenditure pattern was as
follows:

The revision of the rating Act in 1995


giving wholesale exclusion in rate
paying to a lot of institutions (this was
later reversed in 1999);

a) Personal emoluments
b) Provision of services
c) Other expenses

The Personal levy Act of 1994 fixed


very limited minimum and maximum
amounts for personal levy, which is a
local tax on all workers;

The withdrawal of road licensing from


the councils in 1996, and the

The retirement of all staff who had


clocked 22 years in local government
not only robbed the councils of
experienced staff but also forced them
to look for money to pay the
retirement packages which had not
been budgeted for in 1992.

The
appointment
of
District
Administrators by the president in
2000 which led to more centralisation
of power. The District Administrators
office was given more resources than
the councils which further undermined
the effectiveness of the councils.

53%
10%
47%

Thus, on average only 10% of the


expenditure goes to the provision of
services while over half goes to personal
emoluments. These figures have largely
remained the same over the years.
Although the central government in its
budget guidelines for 2005 indicated that
the maximum amount for emoluments
should not be more that 20% of the
budgets, many local authorities ignored
that. The little amount available for service
delivery means that no meaningful services
are delivered by the councils.

Cited in Peter Loloji Enhancing Local


Governance: the efficacy of bilateral
cooperation in The Journal of Humanities Vol. ,
2001, pp20 - 45

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However, in the last five years the new


government has taken local government
(and specifically decentralization) back to
the top of the agenda. Decentralization is
mentioned in most political speeches made
by the president as well as in the main
government documents such as the
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP),
the Fifth National Development Plan
(FNDP)
and
the
draft
republican
constitution. Although not much progress
has been made with the decentralization
reform program, there is now ample
evidence that implementation is well
underway i.e. the setting up of the DS, the
development of the implementation plan
and
the
commencement
of
the
sensitization program for provinces as well
as line ministries. The government is
committed to transfer of not only functions
to the district but also matching resources.
There is also commitment to increased
participation of citizens through the
creation of the sub district structures,
which a key aspect of the policy. These
reforms once implemented will radically
change the face of local government in
Zambia. The main challenge to the reform
process, though, is likely to be the
buerearats who have so far been slow.

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