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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Zambia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1998
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Zambia, 30 January 1998, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.


Zambia is a republic governed by a president, a unicameral national assembly, and a constitutionally independent judiciary. After two decades of one-party rule, free and fair multiparty elections in November 1991 resulted in the victory of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and the election of President Frederick J.T. Chiluba, a former trade unionist. In the November 1996 elections, President Chiluba was reelected, and his party won 131 of 150 seats in the National Assembly. Constitutional amendments enacted in May 1996 had disqualified former President Kenneth Kaunda, the main opposition leader, from seeking the presidency. The MDD's use of government resources, including the state-owned media, put the fairness of the elections into question, although, despite some voting irregularities, there was no evidence of substantial or widespread vote-rigging or vote-counting fraud. The Government generally respected the independence of the judiciary.

Early in the morning of October 28, an army captain took control of the national radio station and announced a coup. By 10 a.m., government troops had regained control of the facilities, the captain and his allies were arrested, and the coup attempt was over. Several days later, the President proposed and Parliament approved legislation establishing a 90-day State of Emergency, which was scheduled to end in February 1998, if not extended. The State of Emergency allowed the Government to detain suspects for 28 days without charge. By year's end, the Government had detained 86 persons, including former President Kenneth Kaunda.

The police, divided into regular and paramilitary units operating under the Ministry of Home Affairs, have primary responsibility for maintaining law and order. They are highly politicized. The Zambia Intelligence Security Service, under the office of the President, is responsible for intelligence and internal security. Police continued to commit numerous, and at times serious, human rights abuses.

Throughout the year, the Government continued its free market economic reform program, halving the inflation rate, maintaining the budget under control, and pressing forward with the privatization of parastatal companies. The revenue authority contributed to the good budgetary results through increased collections, despite cutting tax rates at midyear. Erratic rainfall and delayed delivery of fertilizer contributed to a below average 1996-97 maize crop, the staple food of most citizens. Agreement in principle was reached with international mining companies to privatize the major elements of the copper industry, a move to stem generally declining production and continued losses. Nonmetals exports continued growing strongly, increasing diversification and jobs and making up for reduced foreign exchange earnings from copper.

The Government took steps to address some human rights problems, but serious abuses continued in several areas. The police committed extrajudicial killings and beat and otherwise abused criminal suspects and detainees. Harsh prison conditions deteriorated further, posing an increased threat to the health and lives of inmates. Arbitrary arrests, prolonged detention, and long delays in trials remain problems. Police infringed on citizens' privacy rights. Police authorities continued steps to address police brutality, including community-based policing methods, human rights training in the curriculum of the police training college, and human rights seminars for midlevel and senior officers. However, a lack of professionalism and discipline in the police force remains a serious problem.

The Government persisted in attempts to limit freedom of the press and continued to control two of the country's three daily newspapers, contrary to its 1991 promises to privatize government-owned mass media. The Government restricted citizens' right of peaceful assembly and association. Citizens' right to change their government also was restricted in 1996. In May the Government established the autonomous Zambian Human Rights Commission (ZHRC). Despite initial doubts about its effectiveness, the Commission obtained access to the coup detainees and exposed the fact that seven of them were tortured.

The Commission also took effective steps to press the Government to release a number of prisoners. Women continued to experience discrimination in both law and fact. Wife beating, rape, and denial of widows' inheritance rights remained widespread. Discrimination against people with disabilities is a problem. Child labor exists in rural subsistence occupations and in some urban occupations.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political killings during the year, but police continued to use excessive force that at times resulted in extrajudicial killings. According to police spokesmen, one suspect died in jail when officers failed to provide necessary medical attention, and there may have been other deaths.

In December 1995, army recruits near Kapiri Mposhi went on a rampage in retaliation for the death of a comrade at the hands of local villagers. The rampaging army recruits destroyed an estimated 100 village houses and killed two villagers. After 2 years, no disciplinary action has been reported.

There were many deaths of inmates due to harsh prison conditions (see Section 1.c.).

b. Disappearance

Press accounts report that in May former Rwandan Legal Affairs Minister Agnes Ntangibyaliro Rutugwera, who was living in the copperbelt, was abducted by unknown persons believed to be Rwandan state security agents. Her whereabouts are unknown. Immigration authorities denied involvement.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Although the 1991 Constitution prohibits torture, police regularly used excessive force when apprehending, interrogating, and detaining criminal suspects or illegal aliens. In most such instances, detaining officers beat suspects. In March police at the Chawama station severely beat a suspect, denied him necessary medical attention, and then released him without charges. In May police crushed the testicle of a detainee. No officers have been disciplined or arrested for these acts.

The ZHRC confirmed that police tortured seven of the persons detained after the October coup attempt. There were reports that state agents tortured two of the seven in order to make them falsely implicate former President Kaunda and other politicians in the coup attempt. There were also no reports of any government investigation of the torture of the coup detainees.

On August 23, police fired on an opposition party vehicle, slightly wounding former President Kenneth Kaunda and seriously wounding opposition leader Dr. Rodger Chongwe. Calls for an independent international inquiry were dismissed. The police force promised to undertake its own investigation. The ZHRC was also investigating the Kabwe shooting. No results of the investigations have been announced.

Throughout the year, government officials, nongovernmental organizations (NGO's), and the press closely scrutinized police involvement in human rights abuses, criminal activity, and corruption. Inspector General of Police Francis Ndhlovu continued to exercise his mandate to reform the force. Ndhlovu has instituted a variety of measures designed to restore discipline and professionalism, including police training in respect for human rights. The effectiveness of such reform efforts was called into question during public disturbances in Lusaka's main commercial area in August when police used excessive force to disperse street vendors and later attacked vendors and opposition party members on Cairo Road. Ndlovu's admission in open court in 1996 that he had illegally wiretapped The Post newspaper's telephone lines also raised questions about his commitment to protect human rights.

Police corruption is also a problem. Police often detain citizens in private debt disputes in exchange for a portion of the payment owed (see Section 1.d.). Police sometimes committed extortion at roadblocks (see Section 2.d.).

The police undertook investigations of instances of police use of excessive force, disciplining officers who committed human rights abuses. Middle-ranking and senior police officers were enrolled in human rights training seminars at the police academy. According to statistics provided by the police command, at least 8 police officers were the subjects of internal investigations or prosecutions. Authorities arrested some police officers on such criminal charges as robbery and possession of illegal narcotics.

An earlier human rights commission, chaired by prominent attorney Bruce Munyama, aggressively examined police human rights abuses in public hearings held throughout 1995. In September 1995, the commission submitted its final report to the President, including recommendations to improve the human rights performance of the police. The Government released the report to the public in September 1996.

At year's end, the Government had not disciplined or prosecuted any of the individuals allegedly involved in the torture of persons detained in connection with the 1993 State of Emergency.

Prison conditions are harsh and continued to deteriorate, posing an increased threat to prisoners' lives. According to official statistics, prisons designed to hold 6,000 prisoners held over 12,000. This severe overcrowding, combined with poor sanitation, inadequate medical facilities, meager food supplies, and lack of potable water resulted in serious outbreaks of dysentery and other diseases, including tuberculosis, at various prisons throughout the year. In a report submitted to Parliament in 1996, the Director of Prisons said that 975 prisoners had died in prison between January 1991 and December 1995, due to illness and harsh conditions. The death rate of prison inmates remained about the same in 1997.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Government permits prison visits by both domestic and international human rights monitors.

Arbitrary arrest and detention are still problems. Criminal suspects are often arrested on the basis of flimsy evidence or an uncorroborated accusation. In criminal cases, the law requires that a detainee be charged and brought before a magistrate within 24 hours. Attorneys and family members are allowed access to pretrial detainees. In practice, the authorities hold most detainees for more than 1 month from commission of an offense to first appearance before a magistrate. In many cases, an additional period of 6 months elapses before the magistrate commits the defendant to the High Court for trial. Following committal, preparation of the magistrate court record for transmittal to the High Court takes months--in some cases as long as a year. Once a case reaches the High Court for trial, court proceedings last an average of 6 months.

Detention is often prolonged. Approximately 2,000 of the 12,000 prisoners are awaiting trial on criminal charges. In some cases, defendants have been awaiting trial for as long as 4 years. There was some progress in holding trials; in past years some defendants had waited as long as 10 years for their trials. These long delays are the result of inadequate resources, inefficiency, lack of trained personnel, and broad rules of procedure that give wide latitude to prosecutors and defense attorneys to request adjournments. In 1996 the High Court Commissioner began releasing detainees if police failed to bring the case to trial.

Although there is a functioning bail system, overcrowded prisons reflect the large number of detainees who have committed serious offenses for which bail is not granted. These include treason, murder, aggravated robbery, and violations of the narcotics laws. Also, indigent detainees rarely have the means to post bail. The government legal aid office is responsible for providing legal representation for indigent detainees and defendants in criminal or civil cases. In practice, few receive assistance. In 1997 the office had 14 attorneys to cover the entire country and a budget of $110,000.

Police stations frequently become debt collection centers, where police officers, acting upon unofficial complaints, detain debtors without charge indefinitely until they pay the complainants. In return, the police receive a percentage of payments. The authorities held approximately 500 foreigners, principally from neighboring countries. At times, these detentions last months or years (see Section 2.d.).

The State of Emergency imposed in October allowed the Government to detain suspects for 28 days without charge. As of year's end, the Government had detained 86 persons. On Christmas day, the Government detained former President Kenneth Kaunda on suspicion that he was involved in the coup. (Kaunda had been out of the country since shortly before the coup, returning to Zambia on December 21.) He was moved from prison to house arrest on December 31. At year's end, the Government held a number of political detainees, including ZDC President Dean Mung'omba and UNIP President Kaunda. They have not been charged, but the investigations continued. The Government must release them or present formal criminal charges and bring them to trial before the State of Emergency expires in February 1998 or ask Parliament for an extension of the State of Emergency.

In 1996 the Speaker of the National Assembly ordered the indefinite incarceration of Post newspaper reporters Fred Mmembe, Bright Mwape, and Lucy Sichone for contempt of the House. The High Court later quashed the sentences, ruling that the Speaker had no authority over private citizens. The Government appealed the case, seeking to reinstate the detentions of the three reporters. The case was pending at year's end.

The Government does not use exile for political purposes. However, it has used deportation and the threat of deportation for political purposes against persons whose claims to Zambian citizenship it had refused to recognize.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Government generally respected the independence of the judiciary during the year. In April 1996, the Government introduced constitutional amendments that would have virtually eliminated the independence of the high courts and the Supreme Court. The amendments would have granted the President the power to dismiss judges, subject only to concurrence by the National Assembly. The President alone would have been able to decide what constituted grounds for dismissal. Following strong public protest, the Government withdrew the amendments the following month.

The President nominates and the National Assembly confirms the Chief Justice and the other eight members of the Supreme Court. The Court has appellate jurisdiction for all legal and constitutional disputes. The High Court, which holds regular sessions in all nine provincial capitals, has authority to hear criminal and civil cases and appeals from lower courts. Magistrate courts have original jurisdiction in some criminal and civil cases, while local, or customary, courts handle most civil and petty criminal cases in rural areas.

Local courts employ the principles of customary law, which vary widely throughout the country. Lawyers are barred from participating, and there are few formal rules of procedure. Presiding judges, who are usually prominent local citizens, have great power to invoke customary law in rendering judgments regarding marriages, divorces, inheritances, other civil proceedings, and minor criminal matters. Judgments are often not in accordance with the Penal Code; for example, they tend to discriminate against women in matters of inheritance (see Section5).

Trials in magistrate courts are public, and defendants have the opportunity to confront accusers and present witnesses. Many defendants, however, are too poor to retain a lawyer and the poor state of the Government's legal aid department means that many citizens entitled to legal aid find it is unavailable.

There were no reports of political prisoners (see Section 1.d.).

f. Arbitrary Interference With Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Constitution provides for respect for privacy and the inviolability of the home; however, the authorities did not always respect these rights in practice. Except during a state of emergency, the law requires a warrant before police may enter a home; police routinely ignored this requirement, and often arrested alleged criminals at their homes without having first obtained an arrest warrant. The Constitution grants the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Zambian intelligence Security service authority to wiretap telephones. In September 1996, the Inspector General of Police admitted in open court that he had ordered illegal wiretaps on a telephone at the offices of The Post, an independent daily newspaper. At year's end, he still had not been charged for this illegal action.

Roundups of suspected illegal aliens in the home or workplace continued. According to the Government Commissioner for Refugees, immigration officials are empowered under the law to conduct these roundups without a warrant.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

While the Constitution provides for freedom of expression and of the press, the penal code lists various prohibited activities that may be broadly interpreted so as to restrict these freedoms. In response to headlines and stories that alleged corrupt practices on the part of government officials, the Government or its appointed officials have brought numerous libel actions against the Post newspaper. At year's end, over 80 cases filed over the course of the last 3 years remained to be adjudicated.

The law includes provisions for investigative tribunals to call as witnesses journalists and media managers who print allegations of parliamentary misconduct. Failure to cooperate with a tribunal may result in charges of contempt punishable by up to 6 months in jail. This is seen by the media as a clear infringement on press freedom and a means for parliamentarians to bypass the clogged court system in dealing with libel suits against the media. In 1996 the Speaker of the National Assembly ordered the indefinite detention of three journalists for contempt of the House (see Section 1.d.).

In February the Government published the draft of a media bill that would have limited press freedom severely. After considerable criticism and protest, the Government withdrew the bill. Partly in an effort to forestall any future government attempts to regulate the media, the Zambia Independent Media Association (ZIMA) formed its own media council to establish ethical standards and handle complaints.

A number of independent newspapers question government actions and policies and circulate without government interference. For the last 2 years, the leading independent daily, The Post, has had an Internet home page that has attracted over 15,000 readers per month. State House and the government-controlled Times of Zambia and Daily Mail also have home pages, established in April 1996.

The Government owns the two most widely circulated newspapers, as well as the sole television station, the Zambia National Broadcast Corporation (ZNBC). In addition to the government- controlled radio station, there are two church related stations and one private commercial station operating in Zambia. The Government pressured the commercial station to refrain from carrying the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Multi-Choice, based in South Africa, provides both Direct Satellite Television and analog wireless subscriber television service. In addition to many entertainment channels, the DSTV service provides Cable News Network (CNN), BBC World, and Sky Television News. It also provides three BBC, one Radio France International, and Voice of America (VOA) radio news broadcasts. The analog wireless system carries BBC world news and several entertainment channels. Neither of the services provides local news coverage. The Government exercised considerable influence over the government-owned media, which continued to follow the government line on important issues. A second wireless television service, CASAT, began operations in December.

On January 6, Masautso Phiri, senior editor at the independent newspaper, the Post, was summoned by the Supreme Court to answer charges of contempt of court relating to statements he had made alleging that each justice had accepted a $750,000 (1 billion kwacha) bribe from the MMD-led Government to throw out the opposition petitions against Chiluba's presidential eligibility. He admitted in court that he had no proof of these allegations, and was subsequently sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. Phiri maintains that the court acted unfairly, noting that three of the justices should have recused themselves due to their personal involvement. In mid-April, Health Minister Katele Kalunba banned the Central Board of Health from advertising in The Post.

In February editor Lweendo Hamusankwa and reporter Boyd Phiri of the independent weekly Chronicle were picked up by police and detained at Woodlands police station in connection with a story that reported a break-in at an army armory. They were charged with publishing false news with intent to cause fear and alarm and criminal libel. The case remained open, and no trial date had been set by year's end. On February 15, state agents seized Chronicle reporter George Jambwa at gunpoint following the publication of a story that headlined a presidential aide driving a stolen vehicle. Jambwa was detained for 10 hours at Lusaka Central prison and asked to reveal the source of his story. He then was released.

In December 1996, police charged the opposition's legal counsel, Mainza Chona, with publishing false news with intent to cause alarm among the public. This followed a statement that Chona made in the Supreme Court that a suspected bomb had been planted at former president Kaunda's house. The magistrate set him free after finding the statement to be privileged information made in official court proceedings. Most attorneys believe that the police action was politically motivated, intended to intimidate opposition lawyers.

All undergraduate and a few professional program classes at the University of Zambia were canceled starting in November 1996 following a stone-throwing incident. Although the university senate took this action, public statements by the Minister of Education led most observers to believe that it did so at the behest of the Government. The motivation for the closure was a combination of political, administrative, and financial problems at the university. The university reopened in October.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, but the Government restricted this right in practice. The law requires rally organizers to notify the police 7 days in advance. The police may advise the organizers that the time or venue is inopportune. In practice, the police did not interfere with most peaceful rallies whose leaders had followed the prior notification rule; however, authorities often denied permission to proceed for rallies planned by the political opposition, particularly the United Independence Party (UNIP).

The Constitution provides for freedom of association; however, on occasions the Government has harassed and arrested NGO leaders. Following their detention of several hours in November 1996, NGO leaders Alfred Zulu (ZIMT) and Ngande Mwanajet (AFRONET) were released. They were charged with receiving financing from foreign governments at the beginning of the year. There has been no further action on either charge. Both remain active and free (see Section 4).

All organizations must apply formally for registration to the Registrar of Societies. In most cases the authorities routinely approved these applications. During the year, there were 37 political parties in operation and dozens of nongovernmental organizations.

c. Freedom of Religion

A 1996 amendment to the Constitution declared Zambia a Christian nation while providing for freedom of religion. The Government respects the rights of all faiths to worship freely in practice.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to move freely throughout Zambia, to reside in any part of the country, and to depart and return to the country without restriction. The authorities generally respected these rights during the year, but police roadblocks to control criminal activity continued, and police sometimes extorted money and goods from motorists. In September the Minister of Local Government forbade the Npezeni, the Chief of the N'goni (a group related to South Africa's Zulus), from leaving the country to attend a meeting of Zulu and Zulu-related chiefs in South Africa.

Several days after UNIP President Kenneth Kaunda was detained, the passports of his son Wezi Kaunda, Wezi's wife, and a UNIP Central Committee member were confiscated when they tried to cross the border into Zimbabwe.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that there were approximately 120,000 refugees, mainly Angolans, in Zambia in 1997. The Government cooperated with the UNHCR in processing applications for refugee status.

A steady trickle of persons from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC) continued to cross into Zambia during the year. In response to alleged criminal activities of many Congolese in the border region, the Government rounded up, arrested, and deported many Congolese and other illegal aliens throughout the year. The deportation of illegal aliens is lawful, but those who had been accorded refugee status by the UNHCR were sometimes picked up and held for varying lengths of time before being released. In several cases, the Government deported refugees who were registered with the UNHCR.

The authorities held a number of foreigners who were not registered with the UNHCR as illegal aliens (principally from neighboring countries) until they could be deported. They also held approximately 500 former Zairian soldiers, who are registered with the UNHCR, in a camp in Northern province.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens voted in multiparty elections in November 1996; however, constitutional amendments barred the best known opposition candidate, former president and UNIP leader Kenneth Kuanda and his deputy, senior chief Inyambo Yeta, from running for the presidency in 1996, thereby restricting the right of citizens to change their government. The amendments accepted in 1996 require both parents of presidential candidates to be Zambian citizens by birth and disqualify tribal chiefs from running for the presidency.

Eleven political parties contested presidential and national assembly elections in 1996. Approximately 50 percent of eligible voters registered. Of these almost 70 percent cast ballots. While the MMD's use of government resources--including the state-owned media during campaigns--probably did not affect the final outcomes, their fairness was put into question. The Government's failure to implement a transparent registration project raised doubts about the Government's willingness to have an open electoral process.

Local elections, originally scheduled for 1995, had still not taken place by year's end.

Under the Constitution, the President wields broad authority. Although the National Assembly ratifies major appointments and has other powers, in practice it continued to provide only a limited check on executive authority.

The number of women in politics and government is increasing, but remains small. There are 13 women in Parliament (1 minister, and 2 deputy ministers) and 3 Asians (1 minister). There is also one mixed-race (African-European) minister.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Human rights and civic organizations generally operated without serious government hindrance; however, police arrested the leaders of the Zambian Independent Monitoring Team (ZIMT) and the Committee for a Clean Campaign (CCC) in November 1996 after the two organizations described the 1996 electoral process as neither free nor fair. Although these detentions were brief, the ZIMT, the CCC, the African Human Rights Network (AFRONET), and the Foundation for Electoral Processes have claimed that official harassment, including the blocking of their bank accounts, has continued. Other human rights organizations in Zambia include the Law Association of Zambia, Women for Change, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, and the Zambia Civic Education Association.

In May the Government established an autonomous Human Rights Commission. A Supreme Court justice chairs the Commission; other members are drawn from throughout society and include the former head of the Foundation for Democratic processes (FODEP) and a University of Zambia lecturer on human rights. The Commission interceded on behalf of persons who it concluded had their rights denied by the Government. While there were doubts, at first, about its autonomy and effectiveness, the Commission aggressively sought and received access to the coup detainees, exposed the torture of seven of them, and demanded and obtained better medical care for them. The Commission spoke out on behalf of detainees and prisoners, and the Government responded. At year's end, a number of seriously ill prisoners were released at the Commission's request.

The Government continued to be receptive to criticism from human rights and civic organizations in general, but on occasion, government officials accused human rights monitors of abetting crime and thwarting the work of the police through their focus on the victims of police brutality. The Government did not interfere with inquiries or visits by international human rights organizations.

The Government continued to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda in detaining and sending to Arusha those persons whom the ICTR identified as suspected war criminals.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, tribe, sex, place of origin, marital status, political opinion, color, or creed. Constitutional amendments barring native-born Zambians of partial or full foreign ancestry from the presidency appear to violate the prohibition on discrimination based on place of origin. These amendments also prohibit traditional chiefs, who are accorded authority and privileges as chiefs, from running for political office unless they resign their chieftainships. A legal challenge to these amendments was unsuccessful.


Violence against women remained a serious problem. Wife beating and rape were widespread. According to official statistics, over 4,000 rape cases were reported to the police between 1991 and 1997. Of these, approximately 30 percent resulted in conviction and 5 percent in acquittal. The remainder were either dismissed or remain unresolved. Defendants convicted of rape normally were sentenced to hard labor. Since many rapes are not reported to police, the actual number is considered much higher. Domestic assault is a criminal offense, but in practice police are often reluctant to pursue reports of wife beating, preferring to broker a reconciliation. The Government and nongovernmental organizations expressed increasing concern about violence against women, and the media devoted considerable publicity to it during the year.

Both the Constitution and law entitle women to full equality with men in most areas. In practice, women are severely disadvantaged compared with men in formal employment and education. Married women who are employed often suffer from discriminatory conditions of service. For example, women have little independent access to credit facilities; in most cases, they remain dependent on their husbands, who are required to sign for loans. As a result, few women own their own homes.

Customary law and practice also place women in subordinate status with respect to property, inheritance, and marriage, despite various constitutional and legislative provisions. Polygamy is permitted if the first wife agrees to it at the time of the first wedding. Under traditional customs prevalent in most ethnic groups, all rights to inherit property rest with the deceased man's family. The 1989 Intestate Succession Act was designed to provide women with a share of the joint estate. Under the act, the children of a deceased man equally share 50 percent; the widow receives 20 percent; the parents, 20 percent; and relatives, 10 percent. A 1996 reform of the act places the widow's share at 20 percent to be divided equally with any other women who can prove a marital relation with the deceased man, thus granting inheritance rights to other wives, mistresses, and concubines.

In practice, property grabbing by the relatives of the deceased man continues to be rampant, particularly when local customary courts have jurisdiction. These courts often use a different law, the Local Courts Act, to distribute inheritances without reference to the percentages mandated in the Succession Act. As a result, many widows receive little or nothing from the estate. Fines for property grabbing mandated by the Intestate Succession Act are extraordinarily low.


The Government seeks to improve the welfare of children, but scarce resources and ineffective implementation of social programs adversely affected the welfare of children. Due to harsh economic conditions, both rural and urban children often must work in the informal sector to help families make ends meet (see section 6.d.).

There was no societal pattern of abuse against children.

People With Disabilities

Persons with disabilities face significant societal discrimination in employment and education. The Government has taken steps to ameliorate their hardships, including establishing a national trust fund to provide loans to the disabled to help them start businesses, but its efforts are limited by scarce resources. The Government has not legislated or otherwise mandated accessibility to public buildings and services for the disabled.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right of citizens to form trade unions, and approximately 60 percent of the 300,000 formal sector workers are unionized. Fourteen of the country's 19 large national unions, organized by industry or profession, are affiliated with the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The ZCTU is democratically operated and, like its constituent unions, is independent of any political party and the Government. The Mine Workers Union of Zambia and four other ZCTU constituent unions broke from ZCTU and have established a rival umbrella organization.

The 1993 Industrial and Labor Relations Act (ILRA) reestablished the one industry, one union principle. The Bankers Union of Zambia was duly registered with the Government in 1993 but has been unable to operate because the employers recognize the existing Zambia Union of Financial and Allied Workers. In November 1993, the Ndola High Court ordered the Government to register the Secondary School Teachers Union of Zambia. The Government continues to argue that the Zambia National Union of Teachers represents secondary school teachers and has administratively delayed recognition of the new secondary teachers union.

All workers have the right to strike, except those engaged in essential services, the Zambia Defense Force, the judiciary, the police, the prison service, and the Intelligence Security Service. The ILRA defines essential services as power, medical, water, sewerage, firefighting, and certain mining occupations essential to safety. It permits strikes only after all other legal recourse has been exhausted, and in practice all work stoppages during the year were illegal. The ILRA prohibits employers from retribution against employees engaged in legal trade union activities. Workers engaged in illegal strikes do not enjoy this protection.

By a majority vote of its members, a union may decide on affiliation with the ZCTU or with trade unions or organizations outside Zambia. The ZCTU is a member of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Labor leaders travel without restriction to international conferences and to visit counterparts abroad.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The ILRA provides for the right to organize and bargain collectively. Employers and unions in each industry negotiate collective bargaining agreements through joint councils in which there is no government involvement. Civil servants and teachers, as public officials, negotiate directly with the Government. Collective disputes are first referred to a conciliator or a board of conciliation. If conciliation fails to resolve the dispute, the parties may refer the case to the Industrial Relations Court or, in the case of employees, vote to strike. In practice, the industry joint councils function effectively as collective bargaining units.

The ILRA prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers against union members and organizers. An employee who believes that he has been penalized for union activities may, after exhausting any existing administrative channels for relief, file a complaint with the Industrial Relations Court. This Court has the power to order appropriate redress for the aggrieved worker. The complainant may appeal a judgment of the Industrial Relations Court to the Supreme Court. In practice, the Court often orders employers to reinstate workers found to have been the victims of discrimination.

There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, but it authorizes the Government to call upon citizens to perform labor in specific instances, for example, during national emergencies or disasters. Moreover, the Government can require citizens to perform labor that is associated with traditional civic or communal obligations, as when all members of a village are called upon to assist in preparing for a visit by a traditional leader or other dignitary. In practice, bonded or forced labor by adults or children is not permitted, and the labor authorities enforce the legal proscriptions when cases violating the law are brought to their attention (see section 6.d.).

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment

The legal minimum age for employment of children is 16 years. The Labor Commissioner effectively enforces this law in the industrial sector, where because of high adult unemployment, there are no jobs available to children. The law is not enforced, however, for those who work in the subsistence agricultural, domestic service, and informal sectors, where children under age 16 are often employed. In urban areas children commonly engage in street vending. Forced or bonded labor by children is not permitted, and authorities enforce legal proscriptions when cases of violations are brought to their attention (see Section 6.c.).

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage for nonunionized workers is set at $0.05 (70.30 kwacha) per hour. based on a 48-hour workweek, the legal maximum for nonunionized workers, a worker earning the minimum wage would receive $10.70 (14,600 kwacha) per month. The minimum wage covers nonunionized workers in categories such as general workers, cleaners, office orderlies, and watchmen. The minimum wage is insufficient to provide a worker and family with a decent standard of living, and most minimum wage earners must supplement their incomes through second jobs, subsistence farming, or reliance on the extended family.

With respect to unionized workers, each industry sets its own wage scales and maximum workweek limits through collective bargaining. In practice, almost all unionized workers receive salaries considerably higher than the nonunion minimum wage. The minimum workweek for full-time employment is 40 hours and is, in practice, the normal workweek. The law requires 2 days of annual leave per month of service.

The law also regulates minimum health and safety standards in industry, and the Department of Mines is responsible for enforcement. Factory safety is handled by the Inspector of Factories under the Minister of Labor, but staffing problems chronically limit enforcement effectiveness. There are no legislative provisions to protect a worker who refuses to work on safety grounds.

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