The administrative autonomy of local authorities in Zambia under the 2016 Constitution
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Zambia has, since independence in 1964, endeavoured to build an effective local government system anchored on decentralisation in an effort to attain the values and principles of democracy, autonomy and transparency. These values and principles are essential in enhancing service delivery and development. Within the South African context, De Visser and May argue, in keeping with the developmental imperatives for decentralisation, that local governments should be entrusted with fundamental powers and functions related to basic service delivery. A local government entrusted with fundamental powers is said to be the best foundation for building democracy, social and economic development. Therefore, the desire to build a strong foundation for an effective local government system is what motivates the design of local government administrations in many countries. One of the essential aspects in the design of a local government system is administrative autonomy. Administrative autonomy is important because it plays a complementary role to the realisation of political and fiscal autonomy. Administrative autonomy refers to the discretion to appoint, remunerate, discipline and dismiss staff as well as determining internal administrative procedures. It further ensures that the implementation of local policies is locally directed and driven by promoting accountability of local administrative officials to sub-national governments. In an effort to have a local government system that promotes accountability of local administrative officials to sub-national governments, Zambia has over the years employed three systems of local government administrations from 1964 to 2016 namely, the separate, unified and integrated systems.