1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Background In Zambia, like in many other countries, decentralization has gained acceptance as a vehicle for democratic governance and sustainable economic development. Implementing this recognition in practical terms requires creating and sustaining different autonomous levels of government with clearly defined powers and functions accompanied by a clear allocation of revenue sources and expenditure responsibilities to each level (Mukwena, 1992). A key element in this process is the strengthening of both local government’s capacity to raise revenue and measures of revenue sharing between local and central governments. The recognition of the need for decentralized governance prompted the Zambian Government to formulate the National Decentralization Policy (NDP) launched in November 2004. The objectives of the decentralization policy are to: a. Empower local communities by devolving decision making authority, functions and resources from the centre to the lowest level with matching resources in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services. b. Design and implement a mechanism to ensure a ‘bottom-up’ flow of integrated development, planning and budgeting from the district to the central government. c. Enhance local, political and administrative authority in order to efficiently and effectively deliver services. d. Promote accountability and transparency in the management and utilization of resources. e. Develop the capacity of local authorities and communities in development planning, financing, coordinating and managing the delivery of services in their areas. f. Build capacity for development and maintenance at local level.
2 g. Introduce an integrated budget for district development and management, and h. Provide a legal and institutional framework to promote autonomy in decision making at local level. In addition, Article 109 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia provides for the existence of a local government system based on democratically elected councils on the basis of universal adult suffrage. There are 72 local councils in the country whose management and administration are based on the Local Government Act No. 22 of 1991. With respect to the level of development and population size, among other factors, of a given geographical area, local councils in Zambia fall into three broad categories namely: City Councils, Municipal Councils and District Councils. There are four city councils, fourteen municipal councils and fifty-four district councils in the country. An Overview of Local Government and the Development of Local Authority Administration in Zambia since 1964 when the country gained Independence “Local government is that level of government which is commonly defined as a decentralized, representative institution with general and specific powers devolved to it by a higher tier of government (central or provincial) within a geographically defined area,” (Ismail et al., 1997: 2-3). Local government, ordinarily, refers to a system of government at local level. Ola (1984) defines it as