Guide last updated Alice Tyson, July 2021
This guide was created by Lauren Cummings, former Document Supply Services Supervisor at the IALS Library.
The Republic of Zambia is a country in southern Africa. Under British rule from the late 19th century, it was known as Northern Rhodesia from 1911 until it gained independence in 1964. The Zambia Independence Act 1964 can be viewed at Legislation.gov.uk.
From 1964 to 1991 Zambia was ruled by the United National Independence Party (UNIP), led by President Kenneth Kaunda, and from 1972 to 1991 was a one party state. Kaunda's rule saw significant economic instability, and Zambia was one of the world's most indebted nations in the mid-1980s. Following protests, riots and an attempted coup, Kaunda was succeeded in 1991 by Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), and a period of government decentralisation and economic stabilisation began.
SInce 1991 Zambia's road to democracy has been rocky. The 1996 Amendment to the Constitution proved controversial, and was pushed through as an Act of Parliament by the majority MMD Government. An attempted military coup was suppressed by the government in 1997, with Chiluba declaring a state of emergency. Kaunda was arrested for his alleged role in the plot, then released a week later following condemnation from the United States government. In 2001 Chiluba attempted to gain support for another amendment to the Constitution which would have allowed him to run for a third term as President, but failed and left office in January 2002.
Chiluba's successor Levy Mwanawasa, also of the MMD, began a programme of economic development that was continued by Rupiah Banda when Mwanawasa suffered a fatal stroke in 2008. The aftermath of the 2016 presidental election saw riots as the main opposition party accused the electoral commission of fraud. An election was held on 12th August 2021, seeing opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND elected President.
The current Constitution of Zambia was adopted in 1991. It repealed the previous Constitution of 1973, which had made Zambia a one-party state. Structured along the same lines as Zambia's first Constitution of 1964, it provides for a legislature consisting of the President and the National Assembly. The President is directly elected by the public and may serve two terms of five years each, and retains wide powers, but is accountable (like the rest of the Cabinet) to the National Assembly. The Constitution is declared to be "the supreme law of Zambia", and as such any laws inconsistent with it are declared to be void. [Art. 1]
The Constitution has been amended in 1996, 2009, and 2016. The 1996 Amendment was substantial, and made significant changes to the requirements of presidential candidates: candidates must now be Zambian citizens with two parents born in Zambia, and tribal chiefs were disqualified. Opponents of the Amendment claimed that these changes aimed to specifically prevent Kenneth Kaunda from re-entering office. Among other changes, the Amendment also added a provision to the Preamble declaring Zambia a Christian state. The 2009 Amendment added budget planning measures, and the 2016 Amendment permitted dual citizenship, which had previously been disallowed by the 1996 amendment.
IALS has the Constitution available from World Constitutions Illustrated, a module of the HeinOnline subscription database (see the Law Databases page of the IALS website). Readers can view the original text of the current Constitution and all amendments to date. World Constitutions Illustrated also provides selected journal articles, a short bibliography and other materials relating to the Constitution.
IALS has a hard copy of the 1973 Constitution at GG3.C.1 AAA. Both this and the 1991 Constitution can be found at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies library.
Primary legislation in Zambia takes the form of Acts of Parliament. These are passed by the National Assembly, then assented to and signed by the President to become law. While an Act is still being scrutinised in Parliament it is known as a Bill. Statutory Instruments are used to amend, update or enforce Acts. The numbering of Acts and Statutory Instruments begins anew at 1 each year.
The British Library has a more up to date collection of Zambia legislation (as well as other official publications), but it is still incomplete. You can find more information on the British Library website.
The National Assembly of Zambia website has full text versions of Bills and Acts of Parliament. The website of the Zambia Legal Information Institute, known as ZambiaLII, has full text versions of some Acts and Statutory Instruments indexed chronologically and alphabetically.
IALS also has a collection of some historic legislation relating to pre-independence Zambia (Northern Rhodesia), which can primarily be found at the classmark RES GG3.E.2 and RES FOL GG3.E.4.
The Zambia Law Reports (ZLR) is the official law report series for Zambia, published by the Council of Law Reporting in Lusaka. IALS holds the Zambia Law Reports in hard copy from 1963. These can be found on the Catalogue under the classmark GG3.G.3.
Case reports can also be found on ZambiaLII. These include cases from the Supreme Court, High Court, Industrial Court, Constitutional Court, Court of Appeal, and Subordinate Court.
Issues of the Zambian government gazette from 2016 to present can be found on ZambiaLII.
The British Library has a collection of Zambian official publications. This includes an incomplete collection of the Zambian government gazette and its predecessor, the Northern Rhodesia government gazette. For more information, see the Collection Guide for African government publications.
IALS Library has a selection of books on Zambian law. Titles include:
Chanda, Alfred W., Handbook of media laws in Zambia (Zambia Independent Media Association 1999)
Chewe-Chanda, Annie, Administratove law in Zambia: cases and materials (Juta and Company 2020)
Daka, Joseph, Sexual offences in Zambia and how the police deal with them (Joseph Daka 2004)
Kamuwanga, Mwangala B., Negotiating investments contracts: investment law in the context of development (Multimedia Publications, ZPC Publications 1995)
Kulusika, Simon E., Text, cases and materials on criminal law in Zambia (UNZA Press 2006)
Malila, Mumba, Commercial law in Zambia: cases and materials (UNZA Press 2006)
Malila, Mumba, Commercial law in Zambia: essential texts (UNZA Press 2005)
Munalula, Mulela Margaret, Legal process: Zambian cases, legislation and commentaries (UNZA Press 2004)
Mushota, Lillian, Family law in Zambia: cases and materials (UNZA Press 2005)
Mwenda, Kenneth Kaoma, Legal aspects of banking regulation: common law perspectives from Zambia (Pretoria University Press 2010)
Mwenda, Kenneth Kaoma, Legal aspects of combating corruption: the case of Zambia (Cambria Press 2007)
Mwenda, Kenneth K. and Ailola, David A. eds., Frontiers of legal knowledge: business and economic law in context (Carolina Academic Press 2003)
Ng'ambi, Sangwani Patrick, Contract law in Zambia: an intorduction (Juta 2018)
Other books in the Library with content relating to Zambia include:
Gweshe, Emmah, Chiwese, Farai and Mupfeka, Loveness eds., Protection of children's rights in southern Africa: the domestication of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe (SAHRIT 2004)
Gloppen, Siri, Gargarella, Roberto and Skaar, Elin eds., Democratization and the judiciary: the accountability function of courts in new democracies (Frank Cass 2004)
Halliday, Terence C., Karipik, Lucien and Feeley, Malcolm M. eds., Fates of political liberalism in the British post-colony: the politics of the legal complex (Cambridge University Press 2012) e-book
Moran, Andrew J. and Kennedy, Anthony J., Commercial litigation in anglophone Africa: the law relating to civil jurisdiction, enforcement of foreign judgments and interim remedies (Juta 2018)
Olivier, Louise and Ludman, Barbara eds., Constitutional review and reform: and the adherence to democratic principles in constitutions in Southern African countries (JOpen Society Initiative for Southern Africa 2007)
Oppong, Richard Frimpong, Private international law in Commonwealth Africa (Cambridge University Press 2013) e-book
More books with chapters or articles relating to Zambian law can be found by performing a keyword or subject heading search on the library catalogue. Additionally, books on Zambia can be found in the libraries at SOAS and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.
IALS has the Zambia Law Journal (Lusaka: University of Zambia) from 1969. It can be found on the Catalogue at GG3.J.3.
The subscription service Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (part of the HeinOnline database) includes articles from the Zambia Law Journal as well as other articles relating to Zambia.
More articles on Zambian law can be found by searching databases, such as those on the Law Databases page.
Guide to Law Online: Zambia - Guide to online legal resources about Zambia, published by the Law Library of Congress.
The Law and Legal Research in Zambia - Globalex research guide (Hauser Global Law Program, New York University).
National Assembly of Zambia Publications - Includes transcripts of debates and proceedings, Presidential speeches, and Acts of Parliament, among other materials.
WorldLII: Zambia - Free legal materials relating to Zambia from the World Legal Information Institute.