An evaluation of the effectiveness of the communication strategies employed in combating property grabbing in Zambia: Case study of international justice mission

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Chasha, Joy
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This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the communication strategies employed by International Justice Mission (IJM) to curb property grabbing in Zambia. The problem of property grabbing after a spouse dies by relatives of the deceased, has been identified as a source of deepening poverty for the majority of Zambians who already live below the poverty datum line of one dollar per day. The Zambian Parliament enacted the Intestate Succession Act (Chapter 59) and the Wills and Administration of Testate Estates Act (Chapter 60) in 1989 to protect against property grabbing in Zambia. This statute supersedes all customary laws of inheritance and is applicable throughout the country. However, despite this enactment, people have continued to blatantly ignore the provisions therein and continue to deny the proper beneficiaries of their rightful inheritance and give little or no regard to the two pieces of legislation. As a response to this problem, IJM embarked on a project in 2004 to stop property grabbing in Lusaka, Zambia. The main objectives of the study were to determine the awareness levels of the provisions of the laws of inheritance among Lusaka residents; determine the appropriateness of the communication approaches or methods and channels used to disseminate information on the laws of Succession.The study was conducted in Lusaka, an urban cosmopolitan city and used a multi-method approach which included the quantitative survey in 10 of Lusaka's high, medium and low density areas. With this method, 150 questionnaires were distributed and the data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The other method used was the qualitative focus group discussion with eight community and church leaders and an in-depth interview with a Superintendent fi-om the Police Community Services Directorate. These methods yield very rich information as they allow for detailed personal information to be given.The findings of the study show that IJM's communication strategies are effective but not very efficient. The majority of the Lusaka residents have heard and understand the provisions of the laws of Succession through IJM's communication. It also shows that cases where there was blatant confiscation of property by in-laws have greatly reduced although there are still cases being reported where the beneficiaries are not given the right percentage of the deceased's death benefits, if they died intestate. The information IJM disseminates is relevant to the people but the study shows that they need additional information on how best to work with the police; how to help others in human rights issues among others. On the appropriateness of communication methods used, the study shows that the majority of people appreciate IJM's use of workshops and opinion leaders in the community but that IJM must increase its funding and also consider using drama performances and electronic media such as radio since people pay much attention to these activities.The study concludes with a number of recommendations. Among other things, IJM must strengthen its partnership with the police to ensure that the law is enforced and this will have a deterrent effect on would-be offenders. It was also suggested that IJM needs to increase the number of human resource so that more workshops are conducted to meet the demand for workshops in the communities and be able to provide adequate legal representation for the increasing number of clients who report their cases to IJM.