Zambia Law Development Commission

TALKING LAW REVIEW WITH ZLDC 

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a colleague who revealed to me that they knew very little about the work of the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC or the Commission) and I thought what an interesting coincidence with the start of our article series.

In the coming 13 weeks, we are going to share articles on the work of the ZLDC or the Commission. The ZLDC is a semi-autonomous statutory body established in accordance with the Zambia Law Development Act. The Commission’s primary mandate is law reform. What does this mean?

The functions of the ZLDC are, among others, to make recommendations for the revision and reform of the law and for codification of unwritten laws, to review and consider proposals for law reform referred to the Commission by the Minister or members of the public, to hold seminars and conferences on legal issues; to translate any piece of legislation into local languages; and to research and make appropriate recommendations for law reform.

The law reforms that ZLDC undertakes are  therefore aimed at:

  • Removing old laws that are no longer relevant to the Zambian society from the laws of Zambia,
  • Incorporating the social and political values of the Zambian people into existing and new legislation, and
  • Proposing new laws that should be introduced as well as new methods of administering and dispensing justice.

The Commission comprises 13 members appointed by the Minister of Justice in accordance with the ZLDC Act for a renewable term of 3 years. The day-to-day operations of the Commission are undertaken by a Secretariat led by a Director who is also the Commission Secretary.

What work has the Commission undertaken? Since the ZLDC was converted from a department in the Ministry of Justice and established as a Commission, it has undertaken law review projects in several key national development areas such as Elections, Democracy, and Participation; Justice Reforms; Social Inclusion; Gender Balance; Economic Empowerment; and Public Engagement and Information Dissemination.

Some of the key law reform work the ZLDC has undertaken more recently includes, a review of the Public Order Act to repeal and replace it and develop legislation that facilitates rather than hinders the enjoyment of the freedoms of assembly, association, and expression while facilitating and ensuring the maintenance of public order and protecting lives and property; review of the  Explosives Act Chapter 115 of the Laws of Zambia and the Mines and Minerals (Environmental) Regulations which was motivated by a need to enhance the legislative and institutional framework in the mining sector; review of the British Acts (Extension) Act, Chapter 10 of the Laws of Zambia following an instruction from the Minister of Justice to review this old legislation that extends the application of the law in force in England before 1911 to Zambia; and review of the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act to address some challenges being faced by stakeholders in its administration. The ZLDC also led the stakeholder consultations on the review of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act.

What work is the ZLDC undertaking currently? The ZLDC is working with the Ministry of Science and Technology on the review of the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act, and with the Zambia Institute of Arbitrators on the review of the Arbitration Act. We have also commenced the review of the Rent Act and the Landlord and Tenants (Business Premises) Act.

We are also in the middle of finalising 2 key research – the first research focuses on the adequacy of Zambia’s legislation to respond to pandemics and to make appropriate recommendations.  The COVID-19 pandemic is being used as a case study in this research. The main objective of the second research which is titled ‘The role of Legislation in Economic Recovery’, is to review the adequacy of the law to facilitate the implementation of the strategic development areas in the 8th National Development Plan and Zambia’s economic recovery.

In line with the mandate to hold seminars and conferences on legal issues, the ZLDC is holding 3 legal seminars from September to November 2023. The 3 seminars which will discuss the review of the Constitution, professionalising the public service, and unexplained wealth orders are intended to provide a platform to discuss contemporary legal issues that should be addressed as part of Zambia’s development agenda and important legal matters of national interest prioritised under the 8th National Development Plan and other government policy documents.  The seminars will also serve as a means for stakeholders and members of the public to share their views and experiences on the subjects or areas under discussion and to inform the Commission’s recommendations to the Government on substantive and procedural considerations when conducting legal reforms.

In our next article, we will share with you the highlights of our first legal seminar themed “Constitution Making in Zambia: Finding the Way Forward” held at the end of September 2023.