Progress and problems in implementing the Local Administration Act, 1980 : a case study of Lusaka Urban District Council

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Okello, Edward
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The main purpose of this study is to assess the progress and also to identify problems of implementing the reforms policy objectives under the Local Administration Act (1980).This is being done in order to find out whether or not Decentralization reforms undertaken have been beneficial in view of the opposing schools of thought about its merits and demerits.Lusaka Urban District Council is singled out as a case study for this purpose.The Act is a symbol of major Decentralization reforms in Zambia because it gave more responsibilities and authority to the new District Councils than was the case in the past. The main objective of these reforms is to restructure and rationalise the administrative system with a view to increasing the administrative capacities of the new Councils in order to make then effective and efficient in delivering goods and services to the public. Although, according to available literature, the popular view is that such reforms bring benefits, but this has been disputed by recent studies because of difficulties in implementing public policies in Third World Countries (Zambia, inclusive). The latter contend that administrative reforms, like most public policies, are either not implemented at all or are partially done due to various factors.This study specifically focused on assessing the performance of the new organisation structure of the Council in implementing the reform policy objectives under the Act.In short, besides restructuring the local bureaucracies, the objectives are to improve the staffing position and financial standing of Councils with a view to stimulating social and economic development. The findings of this study have been that Lusaka Urban District Council has had mixed results . That is, it has established on one hand that she has achieved some improvements in financial standing and staffing position but, unfortunately on the other hand, the Council has not yet been able to stimulate any significant social and economic development (provision of basic services). Analytically, this can be explained in the context of inadequacy of the available operating or supporting resources of capital and professional and technical manpower which, if backed by this structural reforms, are key factors in any developmental undertakings. It is evident that although the Government made provisions for this in the Act - and there have been some remarkable improvements in mobilising these operating resources -they were not available in substantial amounts to enable satisfactory provision of basic services to the public. Consequently, the impact of the reform policy is negligible in as far as this ultimate objective has not yet been realised. As such the progress of implementation is below expectation. Above all,this study has identified two basic problems which are mainly responsible for impeding the progress of the implementation of reforms policy objectives. These are Governmental controls and the effects of the national economic problems the country is going through.The negative effects of both of these tend to hamper the
Local Government Administration , Decentralisation