The Exemption of Trade Unions from the Zambia Police Service: A quest for a meaningful reform

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Simukoko, Emmanuel
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The central theme to this study is that Zambia Police reforms cannot be successfully achieved whilst ignoring the internal democratisation of the institution. By internal democratisation it is meant allowing police officers organise through the formation of trade unions. Currently the condition of service leave much to be desired largely because the institution lacks proper representation through trade unions.Thus in the first chapter this study commences by identifying and stating the problem being faced by the institution. The introduction makes it clear that both external and internal democratisations are complementary and it is as such fatal to concentrate on one. So far the reform that has been undertaken concentrated on external aspects better training, civilianisation of administration, community policing, creating the victim support unit and improving on information technology. However what is clearly missing in this type of reform is liberalising labour relations within the Police Service. The structure of internal relations still remains oppressive and militaristic because it was basically handed down by the Colonial powers. Sadly research has shown that oppressed officers are more likely than not to transfer the same oppressive tendencies to the public they serve. Otherwise this approach to management was more suited during the colonial era because at that time the Police was used as an instrument to suppress pre independence agitations by the freedom fighters. The paper contends that this method of administration should be reformed to suit the democratic legal order in which the officers must embrace respect for fundamental human rights.Under chapter two the fears of introducing trade unions in Zambia Police have been dispelled. It has been argued that police officers must be treated as essential workers and not as military personnel. Thus Zambia should take a leaf from the South Africans government who by treating police workers as essential workers they have allowed them to organise trade unions merely as a forum through which to present their work related problems to their employer. This chapter acknowledges the fact that though the international labour conventions give governments the discretion to choose whether or not police should be allowed to organise trade unions, the Zambian Constitution guarantees freedom of association and the right for the workers to form trade unions. With this IX constitutional guarantee in mind and the fact that Zambia is a constitutional democracy this paper contends that it is not justified to continue denying the police officers their fundamental right to associate by forming trade unions. By re-classifying police officers as essential workers the fear of strike will no longer be used as a scapegoat as the law shall only allow them to associate but prohibit strike actions.Chapter three has revealed that the actual conditions of service obtaining in the Zambia Police Service are below expection. It is only the Inspector General of Police and a few top senior police officers that are floating above the current Basic Needs Basket produced by the Jesuit Centre for theological Reflection (JCTR). Therefore the majority of officers are living in abject poverty. The government has aggravated the situation by withdrawing instead of increasing all the allowances for police officers. The argument used to justify this unilateral decision was that the allowances were incorporated into the revised salaries. The paper submits that all these unilateral decisions are taken by the government because they are fully aware that no officers can question them after all there is no union to defend the officers.Finally the paper has concluded that the current reform is inadequate, as it has failed to address the issue of internal democratisation. This has led to deplorable conditions of service in this strategic governance institution. Further that the Inspector General who is expected to present officers problems has failed to do so because he is more inclined to protecting his political appointment than advocate for better conditions for the officers. Besides that apart from being the most powerful official in the entire institution he has the discretion to appropriate the economic benefits to himself without any one questioning him. Therefore it is submitted that the Inspector General cannot be a substitute for the trade union representation. Therefore the paper ends by recommending that the Industrial and Labour Relations Act be targeted for reform. Simply by excluding police officers from section 2 of the Act and including them under section 107 so that they become essential workers reform of this enabling provision can easily be achieve.
Police- Labour Unions Zambia , Labour Unions - Zambia