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Parliamentary committees in Zambia's Third Republic

‘Parliamentary committees in Zambia's Third Republic: partial reforms; unfinished agenda’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 28: 2 (2002), pp. 291-313.



This article critically examines the contribution of parliamentary committees in Zambia to democratic government. Several committees are of long-standing, including the Committee on Government Assurances and Committee on Delegated Legislation; others, notably committees involved in departmental oversight, were refashioned, expanded and given additional powers in 1999. They have worked hard to make government more open and accountable. Additional proposals for reforms to the committee system are currently being studied by a committee of Parliament. Although measuring the 'effectiveness' of such committees is not easy due to conceptual and methodological difficulties, their ability to influence policy and administration is found to be severely limited due to the absence of effective mechanisms to enforce their recommendations. This article maintains that this situation is unlikely to alter significantly unless there are wider changes in the party system, the institutional balance of power between executive and legislature, and the political culture more generally.