About Parliament

The first meeting of the Northern Rhodesia Parliament took place on 23rd May 1924 in Livingstone, the first capital of Northern Rhodesia. The Parliament elected in December 2001 was the twentieth Parliament to have been elected since parliamentary government began in Zambia. This makes the Zambian Parliament one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the Southern African Sub-region.

Since independence on the 24th October, 1964, Zambia has evolved through eleven (11) Parliaments. In this regard, by 24th October, 2014, the Zambian Parliament will have continuously have enjoyed Parliamentary democracy for fifty (50) years.

According to Article 62 of the Constitution of Zambia, "Parliament" is a composite body consisting of the President and the National Assembly. The Republican President, through the powers conferred by the Constitution, calls Parliament to meet, orders elections to take place and gives final approval to laws (the Presidential Assent) but does not otherwise play an active role in parliamentary work. It is the National Assembly, which consists of elected and nominated Members of Parliament that carries out a wide range of important public responsibilities.

These responsibilities include making laws (Acts of Parliament), approving proposals for taxation and public expenditure, and keeping the work of the Government under scrutiny and review.


Responsible Government

Parliament is not the same the thing as the Executive. Parliament does not appoint the Executive (the Executive is appointed by the Republican President ) but in order to remain in office, the Executive must be able to avoid defeat on important matters such as the Budget.  If the Executive can rely on the support  of Parliament on important matters, it is said to have the confidence of the House.  The principle that a government remains in office only so long as it has the confidence of the House is known as RESPONSIBLE GOVERNANCE (because the Government is responsible to the House for the retention of the House’s confidence) and is of fundamental constitutional importance in our system.

The Election of Members of Parliament

Members of Parliament are elected for a five (5) year term on the basis of elections at which every adult person aged eighteen (18) years of age and above and permanently resident in Zambia is entitled to vote.

There are one hundred and fifty parliamentary constituencies where those aspiring to be Members of Parliament stand for elections every five years. The Republican President nominates eight Members. The total number of Members of Parliament is, therefore, one hundred and fifty-eight (158). But since the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Republican President are also Members of Parliament, this brings the total to one hundred and sixty (160).