By Innocent Siachitoba
GOVERNMENT has commended the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC) for the step taken in launching the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, Newsletter, and the Re-designed Website.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Ms. Thandiwe Daka Oteng (Right) and Zambia Law Development Commission Chairperson Justice Roydah Kaoma.
The launch took place on 30th March, 2021 at the ZLDC’s offices while other cooperating partners followed the proceedings on Zoom.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Permanent Secretary, Ms. Thandiwe Daka Oteng, Justice Minister Given Lubinda called on ZLDC to ensure that the Strategic Plan was followed and implemented accordingly adding that Government recognises and is dependent on the Commission’s role in law reform processes through research and stakeholder engagement processes.
‘The launch of the Commission’s Strategic Plan clearly outlining, inter alia, the mission statement; strategic themes; strategic objectives, targets, and intended results gives Government the confidence that the Commission has defined the strategic policy direction to pursue its primary statutory mandate of conducting law reforms that reflect the social and political values of the Zambian people’, he said.
He further stated that the information to be accessed on the website and through Newsletters will stimulate stakeholder interest, support, and participation in law reform processes stating that such efforts, operations and processes will be supported by Government.
A member of Ensemble Arts Acres shows placards depicting what ZLDC does in the law reform process.
Speaking at the same event, ZLDC Chairperson Madam Justice Roydah M.C Kaoma reassured Government and the public that it remained committed to conducting law review in Zambia and that the execution of the Commission’s mandate shall be done with integrity, teamwork, accountability, objectivity, and proficiency as dictated by the Commission’s shared values.
Justice Kaoma highlighted the five key objectives of the 2021 – 2026 Strategic Plan which include; improve law review; improve stakeholder partnership; improve financial management; improve operational systems; and improve human resource and work culture.
She added that in order to engage every stakeholder in the law reform processes as far as information dissemination is concerned, the Commission has published a Newsletter with a special focus on Zambia Law Development Commission Public Engagement in the Law Reform Process, and by redesigning the Website.
‘’Regarding the rebuilt Website, the Commission has recognised and appreciated the rapid advancement in technology in the recent past which has led to increased demand for e-services. Therefore, we have strengthened our Information Communication Technology (ICT) to make it possible to share and receive information on law review from the public without digital barriers’, she said.
She disclosed the ZLDC had created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube in order to attract members of the public who are using the digital platforms and has linked these to its Website.
And German Development Cooperation (GIZ) representative Johanna Strohecker noted with gladness that the Commission remained a key organisation in promoting good governance and national development through the promotion and development and dissemination of law reforms adding that the Cooperation will continue to render support to processes that are aimed at development.
German Development Cooperation (GIZ) representative Johanna Strohecker
‘We remain committed to supporting processes which promote sustainable development and engagement of citizens in attaining the desired development in Zambia’, she said.
Speaking earlier, ZLDC Director Hope Ndhlovu Chanda said the Commission believed that it cannot carry out its mandate without the support and collaboration with stakeholders both locally and internationally, therefore, ‘the Commission needs the support in implementing various projects and activities relating to law review processes’.
In a vote of thanks by Commissioner Patrick Samwimbila, the Commission thanked the Government, cooperating partners and stakeholders who have been instrumental in the law reform processes in the country.
THE SUMMARY OF STRATEGIC PLAN, PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
In 1996, the Zambia Law Development Commission (ZLDC) was converted from a department in the Ministry of Justice to a semi-autonomous statutory body established under the Zambia Law Development Commission Act, Chapter 32 of the Laws of Zambia. The decision to convert it from a department to a statutory body was necessitated by the need to have an independent body with a full mandate to carry out comprehensive law reform in the country.
The primate mandate of ZLDC therefore is to carry out law review and reform through systematic research.
The law reforms that ZLDC undertakes are 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 ZLDC is duty bound to undertake law reviews on recommendations from the Minister of Justice, from line ministries, statutory bodies and indeed from any member of the public.
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 with an establishment of 35 members of staff.
The current Commission Chairperson Madam Justice Roydah Kaoma was appointed in 2015. Her Commission comprises Mr. Andrew Mwanakulnga, as Vice Chairperson, and Mr. Lazarous Chota, Mr. Shilambwe Mwaanga, Mr. Andrew Nkunika, Mr. Patrick Samwimbila, and Mr. Francis Chilunga as members respectively. Mrs. Hope Ndhlovu-Chanda serves as Director and Commission Secretary.
SINCE ITS ESTABLISHMENT…
The Commission has undertaken law review projects in a number of key national development areas such as Elections, Democracy and Participation; Justice Reforms; Social Inclusion; Gender Balance; Economic Empowerment; and Public Engagement and Information Dissemination: The key interventions in these thematic areas have been as follows:
- Elections, Democracy and Participation – The Commission conducted legislative audits and national consultations on, inter alia, the development of the Political Parties Bill, Public Order (Amendment) Bill, and the operationalisation of voting by persons in lawful custody under which process the Commission developed the Electoral Process (Amendment) Bill; the Electoral Process (Campaign in Prisons and Correctional Centres) Regulations; and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (Amendment) Bill.
- Justice Reforms – The Commission successfully developed the Anti-Torture Bill, Non-Governmental Organisations Bill, Anti-Terrorism and Non-Proliferation (Amendment) Bill, Zambia Correctional Services Bill, and is currently reviewing the Penal Code Act, and the Criminal Procedure Code Act.
- Social Inclusion – The Commission facilitated the establishment of Fast Track Courts, and the restatement of customary laws in Zambia. Further, the Commission reviewed the Witchcraft Act, and developed the Children’s Code Bill, Anti-Human Trafficking Bill, and the Intestate Succession Bill.
- Gender Balance – The Commission reviewed the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and consequently developed a Bill which was later enacted into law as the Matrimonial Causes Act No. 20 of 2007. Further, the Commission reviewed the Marriage Act and subsequently developed the Marriages Bill. In addition, the Commission reviewed the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act and conducted works on customary land tenure; and
- Economic Empowerment – In this area, the Commission conducted nationwide consultations on the Rural Electrification (Amendment) Bill. In addition, the Commission developed the National Youth Development Council (Amendment) Bill, the Sports Council of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, and the Customary Land Tenure Bill. Further, the Commission worked on the Local Courts Systems in Zambia to improve access to justice at local court level.
The long-term impact of projects and activities conducted by the Commission has been the enhanced participation of the public on matters of governance, and the creation of a conducive environment within which constitutionalism thrives. Among other outcomes, laws have been harmonized while archaic provisions have been removed from statute books. In addition, there is improved access to and dispensation of justice, This has also resulted in the creation of an inclusive environment in which disadvantaged groups of society, such as women and the rural poor, have equitable access to justice and national resources. Eventually, the thematic areas have contributed positively towards the attainment of goals set under national developmental plans such as the Sixth National Development Plan, Seventh National Development Plan and the Vision 2030.
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT IN THE LAW REFORM PROCESS
The successes the Commission has scored so far cannot be attributed to the Commission’s efforts and ingenuity only but were achieved through partnerships cultivated over the years with government ministries and statutory bodies, civil society organisations (CSOs) and cooperating partners such as the German Technical Corporation (GIZ), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODCC), the European Union (EU), the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children.
The partnerships have increased collaboration, knowledge, expertise, and resources available to make better pieces of legislation and to reach and engage a larger number of stakeholders.
In an effort to enhance these collaborative efforts, their the impact and the visibility of the Commission, the German Technical Corporation (GIZ), in 2019 funded a project titled “ZLDC Public and Civil Society Engagement in the law reform process”. The project was aimed at promoting increased participation, understanding and engagement in the law reform process by government ministries, statutory bodies, civil society organisations, the media and the general public .
Under the Public engagement project, the Commission undertook stakeholders consultative and information dissemination meetings with office of the Vice President, Cabinet Liaison Officers, CSOs and the media. The objectives of the meetings were to discuss proposed areas of law reform and on-going law reform processes in Zambia; Provide a platform for civil society and the media to recommend and advocate for proposed areas for law reform, and to develop and create synergies for future collaborations; and to recommend interventions and avenues on how government ministries and departments, the civil society and media can collaborate with the ZLDC in disseminating information on law reform processes in the country.
Under this project, the Commission also successfully
- Re-designed its website to make it more interactive, informative and to create social media links such as Facebook, twitter and Youtube,
- published a special edition newsletter,
- Implemented capacity building activities for its staff to improve its service delivery in law reform processes, and
- Procured equipment such as laptops, high resolution camera, and information storage devices.
THE 2021-2026 ZLDC STRATEGIC PLAN
In order to build on these successes the Commission resolved to develop a strategic plan to better guide and give direction and focus to its work. With technical support from Management Development Division of Cabinet Office the Commission developed its 2021–2026 Strategic Plan.
The plan is aimed at ensuring that the Commission puts in place an effective framework for stimulating stakeholder interest, support and participation in the execution of programmes. The plan will be guided by its new vision which is to be “a dynamic institution for responsive laws to the needs of the nation” and mission statement which is “To recommend revision and reform of the law for enhanced laws”.
Since its establishment, the Commission has grappled with a number of challenges which have included:
- Inadequate funds resulting in inability to fully implement its mandate;
- Inadequate harmonisation and coordination among stakeholders in law review processes;
- Inadequate transport and equipment; and
- Inadequate number of qualified staff.
Therefore, building from its past successes and learning from the challenges that were faced, the key focus areas of the Commission’s 2021-2026 strategic plan will be:
- Improving law reviews by continuously engaging Ministry of Justice on the review and implementation of the structure as well as on adequate funding of the Commission.
- Improve stakeholder partnership by engaging cooperating partners and other stakeholders for support to implement the Strategic Plan and development of systems.
- Improve financial management: This will be achieved by developing and implementing Resource Mobilisation mechanisms.
- Improve operational systems through setting up of an ICT Unit to spearhead automation and integration of systems as well as expedite development of management policies to guide leadership and management in decision making, ensure consistency and legitimate practices.
- Improve human resource and work culture by engaging training institutions for tailor-made capacity building programmes.
THE FUTURE OF ZLDC
With the 2021-2026 strategic plan, the Commission shall continue to provide principled, progressive new laws and be a catalyst of change while responding to the ever-changing needs of the public we serve. The ZLDC is committed to ensuring that the public, government ministries and departments, media and civil society organisations are engaged in the law reform processes.