Decentralization in the local authourities in Zambia. What is the way forward? A case study of Lusaka City Council
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The Government of a modern society is an enormous task involving the social economic and political aspect of the inhabitants of a particular country. For this reason most countries find it necessary to decentralize their administration. Such decentralization can take a number of forms, for example; functional decentralization in which a particular service or function is hired from the Central Government to a semi-independent organization referred to as "quango" (quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization)1. Another form is regional devolution; which involves the limited transfer by central government of specific functions with all of the administrative, political and economic attributes that these entail, to Local (i.e. Municipal) government which are independent of the centre within a legally delimited geographic domain. Local government is an example of such devolution, but on a local basis. Local government is self government involving the administration of the local community. Although subject to the central government in many ways, it must possess a considered amount of responsibility and discretionary power. The Zambian Local Authorities have over the past 40 years undergone changes in their internal organization. Confidence and optimism, sustained and reflected in their expanding budgets, have given way to reduced spending plans and reduction in service provision. They are currently experiencing a longer term and conspicuous threat which can be described as "delocalization" meaning; central government is always concentrating its power at the centre and not devolving it to local levels. This is evidenced by loss of resources to adequately deliver social services2 This is caused by inter alia, drainage of Council revenue bases through changes in taxation policy i.e., through macro-economic reforms and privatization; 'penetration' by Central Government of the District and Sub -District level (the establishment of Constituency Development funds committee, the presidential housing imitative to win general elections in 1996; and the new posts created by presidential order in 1998; the District Commissioner. The primary objectives of a decentralized system are to facilitate the efficient delivery of services and to promote accountable and transparent governance, which responds to and benefits all sectors of society, particularly the poor and which strives to eradicate all forms of exclusion. Thus the need for Local Government arises together with the need to bring the government closer to the communities.
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