Decentralization policy of Zambia: An investigation of effort and constraints in its implementation in Mambwe District
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The study investigated effort and constraints in the full implementation of the 2002 (revised 2013) national decentralization policy of Zambia. Mambwe District Township was used as a case for the study. In the background, consequences of delays in implementing the policy formed the problem situation.The overall research problem wasthe unwarranted delays in the full implementation of the policy whose implementation was scheduled to end in 2010 from the time of its launch in 2002. This problem was tackled through identifying measures taken and constraints being faced in implementing the policy. The effortand constraints formed independent variables. These were measured to determine their relationship to the dependent variable which was full implementation of the decentralization policy. The study is significant in that it provides in depth knowledge on policy implementation, which may be useful in ensuring that policies are implemented fully and timely. To establish a base for the study, related works done by scholars and organizations within Zambia, in other African countries and beyond, were reviewed. The study sample included 115 respondents and 15 key informants, making a total of 130 subjects. Probability sampling methods used in selecting respondents included stratified random sampling and lottery methods. A non- probability sampling method used in selecting key informants was purposive or judgmental. The study adopted descriptive and explanatory study designs within a case study approach. This is because both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Qualitative data werecollected by desk research and oral, recorded interviews. It was analyzed manually by using narrative methods of deductive and inductive. Quantitative data were collected by self-administered semi- structured questionnaires and interview guides. It was analyzed by using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences and Microsoft excel soft wares The study shows that very little effort is being made to counter the constraints in implementing the policy. This is due to lack of central government commitment to provide resources to local institutions. Failure to follow the implementation process as out-lined in the Decentralization Implementation Plan and weak political will towards implementation of the policy, among others. Measures taken include putting in place an implementation plan and relevant institutions. The study results also show that, there is lack of knowledgeabout policy contents anda weak legal frame work. Furthermore, institutions are ill equipped and are thereforenon-operational. There is a negative attitude by implementers (local government practitioners) towards the policy.These are the major constraints in the implementation of the policy. From the above findings, the study recommends that central government should provide adequate information to all stakeholders on the implementation of the policy. Use of major local languages in information dissemination on decentralization processes should be considered. Government should strengthen the legal framework that supports implementation of the policy. Adequate resources, human, financial and material should be provided to institutions involved in the implementation process to make them operational. The ministry of local government and housing should motivate, educate and train local government practitioners to make their attitude towards implementation of the policy positive. The decentralization implementation plan needs to be followed strictly by all stakeholders.