People,Participation and Development: A Case Study of Popular and Effective Participation in Parliamentary Process in Kawambwa District
Chitika, Elizabeth Katongo
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Parliament is the Central Institution of democracy in Zambia through which the will of the people is expressed. In a normal situation, Parliament is supposed to provide opportunities for grassroots participation as it executes its roles of legislation, executive oversight and representation. As a unique elected body that represents society in all its diversity, Parliament has a unique responsibility for reconciling the conflicting interests and expectations of different groups and communities through the democratic means of dialogue and compromise. The main objective of this study was to investigate through a case study of the Zambian Parliament, popular and effective participation in parliamentary processes in Kawambwa District and evaluate the extent to which the legislature in Zambia is open and responsive enough for public participation in its business. The findings of this research is poised to expand the general knowledge base for further research into the areas of popular and effective participation in development especially as it relates to Parliament. Further it is likely to influence the following categories of people: policy-makers, government policy implementers, development theorists, NGOs, cabinet and local authorities.In carrying out this research, the quantitative survey technique was used to collect data from 100 members in Kawambwa Constituency. Further, in depth interviews were also conducted with key stakeholders such as the Speaker of the National Assembly, Members of Parliament, community based civic organizations whose work focuses on constituency relations. After analysing the data that was collected from the field, there is no doubt that people are aware that the founders of the institution of parliament had in mind increased public participation in parliament for accelerated development. However, it has been established that Parliament has not made any significant contribution to the creation of a democratic institution at constituency level which favour effective participation in development.There is however, a reasonable increase in the political participation of people which highlights the significance of local democracy to the rural population. In terms of development participation, both the people and the Members of Parliament are nonetheless more inclined to favour people involvement in development activities which is very encouraging especially for the future.Similarly the share of parliament in constituency development is considerably low explained very largely by lack of resources and preferences of central government to directing major development projects through other government bodies thus by-passing the people’s representatives. But despite this, belief in parliament as the viable institution for constituency development is continuously preferred by the people.Lastly, it is important in a study of this kind to recommend new models or new concepts and strategies for development. The researcher therefore, believes that there is an urgent need to involve the people in all development processes. Exactly what form this takes may be defined differently by different people. It is however, a compelling necessity that people are organised at the constituency level as this is a pre-requisite for effective participation. This will be in line with recent trends in development that call for greater participation by the people at all stages in the development process.
SubjectLegislative bodies--Public meetings