Local Government

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Electronic Publications from the University of Zambia, Lusaka Published on the Internet by the SAP - Project at http://www.fiuc.org/iaup/sap/

Enhancing Local Governance: the efficacy of bilateral cooperation1 By: Peter K. Lolojih BA, MPA Plolojih@excite.com University of Zambia, Political and Administrative Studies Department

Abstract

From 1964 to date the Government of the republic of Za mbia has instituted various reforms aimed at enhancing effective governance at the local level. This article argues that the government’s desire to institute an efficient and effective local government system, over the years, has not been accompanied by appropriate, serious and committed efforts. Activities of central government, through various policies and directives, have instead undermined the potential effectiveness of the local government system and helped to sustain, among other things, the local aut horities’ financial dependence on central government. Specifically the article utilizes some of the findings from the research component of the Co-operation for District Development (CDD) pilot project that was implemented in the country’s Northern Province to, among other things, show that it is possible to revitalize the operations of local authorities if deliberate and meaningful interventions are instituted.

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This is an updated version of an article published in the Journal of Humanities, vol. 3 of 2001, pp20-45

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© by the author: Peter K. Lolojih - University of Zambia

Electronic Publications from the University of Zambia, Lusaka Published on the Internet by the SAP - Project at http://www.fiuc.org/iaup/sap/

Introduction

Decentralizing government activities to the local level has potential to promote democratic governance in a country. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – OECD synthesis report a decentralized government brings decisions closer to the people most affected by such decisions; promotes participation of ordinary people in decision- making at the local level; transfers power to the people and institutions at the periphery who otherwise would not have much influence on decisionmaking at national or local levels; and promotes equity by altering imbalances in national development especially in most developing countries which are characterized by uneven levels of development.1

The Human Development Report also notes, among other things, that decentralization should improve efficiency because at the outset projects would be better able to match local needs; and that decentralization opens up the opportunity for people to add voluntary contributions to amplify a project’s impact.2

Governments worldwide have, in various ways, made and continue to make efforts to decentralize their political and administrative structures responding to the realization that it is difficult to manage a country’s political, social and economic activities only from the center. The center has neither the capacity nor the time to deal with all the issues some of which may be purely local. Zambia’s efforts in this direction can be traced from as far

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© by the author: Peter K. Lolojih - University of Zambia

Electronic Publications from the University of Zambia, Lusaka Published on the Internet by the SAP - Project at http://www.fiuc.org/iaup/sap/

back as 1964 when the country gained its independence from British rule. The period 1964 to date, divided into the First Republic (1964-1972), Second Republic (1973-1990), and the Third Republic starting from 1991 has witnessed the movement from one local government system to another. Limitations of the preceding system have usually been cited to justify these movements. Ironically, however, the local government system in Zambia has continued to exhibit high levels of ineffectiveness and inefficiency as regards its ability to deliver services. Several reasons, to explain the dismal performance of the local authorities, have...
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