The decentralisation of powers and functions to local government under the 2016 Constitution of Zambia.
At independence in 1964, the United National Independence Party (UNIP)-led government in Zambia was, among other things, confronted with the challenge of transforming an inherited dual, undemocratic, racist and exploitative system of local government. Local government was a creature of national legislation, and thus did not have direct constitutional authority. Between 1964 and 1995, the government adopted several reforms aimed at democratising and improving the efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness of the system of local government. However, local government remained a creature of national legislation. In 1996, local government was for the first time recognised in the Constitution as a tier of government. Article 109 of the 1996 Constitution of Zambia required the establishment of a system of local government whose details were to be prescribed by an Act of Parliament. The provision further provided that such a system shall be based on democratically-elected councils. Thus, the 1996 Constitution transformed local government from being a mere creature of central government into a tier of government. While the institutional integrity of local government in Zambia was enhanced, service delivery by local authorities remained poor.