Analyzing the direction of labour law reform in Zambia: In view of the controversy surrounding the industrial and labour relations(Amendment)bill No.8 of 2008

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Zambwe, Rex
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It is evident that the importance of an effective, permanent machinery of law reform has not been realized in many of our African countries. On a daily basis we are confronted with stupendous challenges for law reform and development to underpin our quest for stability and national unity, challenges which must be responded to with supreme wisdom. Rules and regulations in society are not static but dynamic and this gives rise to law reform so as to suit the prevailing circumstances of that period. A look at law reform in Africa presents one with an interesting view of how this 'reform' is effected and the considerations that are taken into account by the various stakeholders as regards review in a particular area of the law. Zambia is not an exception to this common tendency where the efficacy of law reform in a country is questioned and a specific area in this instance is the labour market. Against this background the main objective of this research is an analysis of the direction of labour law reform in Zambia with specific pertinence to the controversial upheavals raised by the Industrial and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill No.8 of 2008.This Bill was assented to on the 24* of September 2008 and is now the Amendment Act No.8 of 2008.At the inception of this research the Bill had just been presented to Parliament and the entire process in Parliament was followed by the author until the Bill was assented to. This piece of legislation is the primary model of the research. Firstly, the paper traces a brief historical background on the development of labour relations and the attendant labour law reforms in Zambia (post-Independence to date); secondly, the state of the current employment law and the prevailing labour trends within the Zambian labour market is discussed; the research then turns to a closer look into the legal and political controversy surrounding the proposed Industrial and Labour Relations Amendment Bill as it underwent the process in Parliament and the attendant implications after it was assented to by the President on the 24* of September 2008. At this instance an examination of some of the 'controversial' provisions in the Amendment Act and an objective commentary will also be given. In order to have more comprehensive findings, a short case study on Kenya and the recorded improvements in critical areas such as the labour and employment sector is carried out. The results of this case study are used as a comparison to show the state and direction of labour law reform in Zambia. With the use of the sum results of the preceding discussions, the next component points out the eminent and consequential pitfalls that are brought about by lack of a pragmatic 'labour law reform' mechanism. After highlighting these consequential pitfalls some recommendations are rendered within the ambit of concluding remarks. The said recommendations include:- less interference by the government in legislative outcomes; inclusiveness in the process and higher stakeholder input; and effective implementation of labour policies to mention a few.
Labor laws and legislation-Zambia , Law reform-Zambia