Decentralisation in Zambia: An analysis of local democracy.
Zambia has had a system of local government whose origin can be traced back to the colonial era. This system of local government, which is comprised by local authorities, did not have constitutional recognition. The 1996 Constitution of Zambia was the first to recognise the institution of local government. Nevertheless, the only aspect of local government which was entrenched was the provision that councils were to be democratically elected by universal adult suffrage. Other key principles of local democracy, such as citizen participation, local accountability and transparency, that are necessary pillars to an effective system of local government, were not recognised in this Constitution. It was not a surprise that most Zambians experienced challenges in accessing basic public and social services such as water supply, sanitation, housing and health care, which are a responsibility of local government. The absence of sufficient democratic content in the 1996 Constitution and in the enabling legislative and policy framework partly contributed to the ineffectiveness of local authorities.