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16th of October 2018

Zambia News

Zambia : Zambia today versus the Zambia I learnt about in my Social Studies class in Primary School


INTRODUCTIONGrowing up and at the age of 6 getting excited with trying to read every word I came across, the biggest word I came across was decentralisation. I came across this word in my dad’s mini-library. I went up to my old man and I asked him what that word was: [“de-cen-tra-li-sation”]. My old man explained to me and it was a word that the Second Republic under Kenneth Kaunda was advocating for. I thought wow…then why has it not been implemented given that this thing seemed to have started way before I was born. My old man calmly replied that [“de-cen-tra-li-sation”] is a process and it simply means to move power or authority from one focused point to another or many others. He tried to explain to my simple 6-year-old mind by saying if him, as dad is in charge of buying food, the day he gives my older brother to start carrying out that duty, it means he has now decentralised or has given my brother the power to buy food. Well, that was the eighties. I am a grown man and this is the 2000s, Zambia is still grappling with issues of decentralisation.


In a bid to create better service delivery, the late Michael Sata decided without consulting people who would be affected to split the Northern Province of Zambia claiming that it was way too big and said this would make service delivery better. All of a sudden, here I was a native of Northern Province now finding myself in a new province called Muchinga of which I was never consulted on. I will not make that a big deal as it is really not that important. My concern is the chaos that ensued from that, more districts but no tangible development. So, what was the use of these new districts. The question I asked myself is, if Michael Sata justified the splitting of Northern Province, why not split the other big provinces like North-Western and Western Provinces. That’s open for discussion and there many issues that people can decipher from that and is not the focus of this article.


In continuing with Sata’s legacy, Edgar Lungu has also continued with the creation of new districts in the name of decentralisation and service delivery. What has really come from these new districts? There are no office blocks for district commissioners to carry their duties so where is the decentralisation? Everything in Zambia is centered in Lusaka. People from Mwinilunga come to Lusaka to get passports for example. People have to register their vehicles in big towns like Kitwe or Ndola when they coming from Zambezi. It seems that if tomorrow we had a new president, that individual will also create more districts. This is a precedence and legacy that Michael Sata has blessed us with. In the years to come when we have a new president and this person continues with creating new districts please refer to this article and ask if really the creation of districts is solving anything.


Having been a student of South African Politics 101 to 302 (first to third year) for degree purposes, I was very impressed with what the South Africans call the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). This compromised of 90 provincial delegates from the nine provinces. This means that each province is represented equally. The NCOP may consider, amend, propose amendments, to or reject legislation. It considers all national bills and has the power to initiate legislation in the functional areas where Parliament and the provincial legislatures have concurrent legislative power. This is a brilliant way of political administration and South Africa’s 9 provinces function like federal states. This is seen in simple issues that you see in car registration plates, each province has its own registration authority and hence each province has its own car registration identity, i.e. GP=Gauteng, L=Limpopo, NC= Northern Cape, EC=Eastern Cape, NC= Northern Cape, MP=Mpumalanga Province, FS=Free State Province, bigger provinces like Western Province and Kwa Zulu Natal are subdivided into their many sub regions. Western Cape has many regions so the licence plates are for example, CA=Cape Town, CF=Kuils River, CG=Oudtshoorn, CJ=Pearl etc. Kwa Zulu Natal also has many regions with plates running from NA=Harding, NB=Bergville, NBA=Babanango, NC=Camperdown and NP=Pietermaritzburg.What this simply means good people, is that a person who is in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa does not need to travel all the way to the administrative capital Pretoria in Gauteng Province to have a license processed because he or she has the facilities in their own province. Of course, with the advent of technology, the information is put up in central servers that each province can access regardless of things such as relocation or migration from one province to another.Another decentralisation method is the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa. This Department has been fingered for being disorganised and that is something that is endemic in many public Departments but aside from that, there is a Home Affairs outlet for people in Municipalities and villages hence people can have their National Identification Cards and Birth or Death Certificates processed without the hassle of travelling long distances for such facilities.

An Uncle aged 78 years from Mpika will have to travel to Lusaka just to get the stone age card when he can do that in his own village

CONCLUSIONIn Zambia, everything seems centralised in the administrative capital Lusaka and we are not taking advantage of technology. Just trying to obtain the ‘stone age National Registration Card’ which by the way is not digitised is a problem. An Uncle aged 78 years from Mpika will have to travel to Lusaka just to get the stone age card when he can do that in his own village or province of Northern Province if the so-called decentralisation or district creation really was functional. When will we learn to decentralise in Zambia? We continue going back in time with the backward processes that are in place. Getting a passport, one has to go to Lusaka’s Passport Offices…. very retrogressive. I suggest that the president in creating districts should make means to decentralise because this whole exercise is useless if one has to work in the new districts and yet they can’t carry out a simple task like accessing a National database and verifying a National Registration Card Number, processing it and issuing it out while in Chilubi Island. Simple things like getting a replacement for a Grade 12 certificate has to be done in Lusaka and you ask yourself why. Don’t we have smart people who can come up with a better way. Nowadays, people seem to be Tech-Savvy but I am starting to think, we are also becoming inactive in terms of coming up with great idea. People will say, how can I institute change when there is no political will? I am writing this because I know the current government follows on-line media and I hope to get some form of reaction. By the way, where is the so called new digitalised National Registration Card we were promised?


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