Public Relations

The main function of the Public Relations Department is to inform citizens about the activities of the parliaments mainly through the press, mass media and visits to Parliaments by the public.  Much still remains to be done in the field of rendering the activities of the Zambian Parliament fully understood by the Public.  However, visits to Parliament Buildings have always been encouraged.  Through the encouragement of Honourable Members of the House and through individuals or institutions’ initiatives, members of the public are allowed access to the Galleries of the Chamber.  In this respect, the Department processes applications for such visits for which approval is given by the Clerk’s office.

In the case of educational visits, applicants are advised to channel their applications through the Head of Public Relations Department.  Before such visits take place, the Department advises the visitors, well in advance, of what is expected of them when they come to visit Parliament Buildings.  Visitors are advised to be decently dressed. Upon arrival at Parliament Buildings, visitors who come in groups are expected to get a group pass at the main gate.  This is done in liaison between the Public Relations Department and the Security Department so that visitors are not unnecessarily held up at the gate.  An officer of the Public Relations Department gives a brief talk on the  procedures of the House to educate groups before they are ushered into the Public Galleries.

Experience has shown that educational groups have benefited from their visits to the House.  Quite often, schools and colleges that have sent some of their students to the House ask for permission to bring more of their students.  Parliament has responded positively to such requests. Another way through which Parliament makes its activities better known to the Public is through the publication of a booklet entitled “A guide for Visitors to Parliament Buildings”.

Protocol

Closely related to the Public Relations functions are protocol duties. The following are the protocol duties undertaken by the Department.

At various times in the year, High Commissioners (Commonwealth diplomatic representatives) and Ambassadors (other diplomatic representatives) accredited to Zambia seek audience with the Honourable Mr Speaker at Parliament Buildings.  Under normal circumstances, these requests should be channelled through the Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Correspondence between Parliament and the High Commission (involved) is channelled through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Once the Hon. Mr Speaker has agreed on the date and time for the courtesy call, the Department makes arrangements for the High Commissioner’s or the Ambassador’s curriculum vitae to be made available to the Clerk at the earliest time possible. However, experience has shown that it is sometimes necessary, for the Department to deal directly with High Commissions and Embassies. In cases where such courtesy calls are to be held in the Hon. Mr Speaker’s chambers, only the Clerk will attend the meeting.  However, where such courtesy calls are held in one of the Committee Rooms, the Department will arrange the room and take minutes of the meeting.

Members’ Invitations

The Department also deals with correspondence and protocol duties relating to invitations to Hon. Members of the House by outside institutions such as government ministries and private organisations.  Hon Members are often invited to inspect development projects or industries.  Approval for such trips is given by the Hon. Mr. Speaker.

Parliamentary Delegations Abroad

Other protocol duties involve facilitating trips by the Hon. Mr. Speaker’s delegations abroad, Parliamentary delegations to conferences, seminars or workshops.  In this regard, the Department prepares flight itineraries for the delegations.  This is done in conjunction with the Travel Agent or the Airline.  Where need be, the Department, either through the travel agent or the Zambian High Commission/Embassy, makes accommodation arrangements for Members of the delegation in the country of destination.  The Zambian High Commissioner or Ambassador is also informed about the delegation’s visit and requested to extend courtesies to the delegation.  Before the delegation departs, the Department ensures that passports, visas are in order and the VIP lounge at the Lusaka International Airport is reserved, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the use by the delegation upon departure and on arrival.

Parliamentary Delegations to Zambia

Once a decision has been made by the Hon. Mr. Speaker, for a parliamentary delegation from another country to visit Zambia, the Department draws up the programme for the visitors.  In drawing up the programme for foreign dignitaries, the Department takes into account the nature of the country visiting Zambia (Political and Economical).  For instance a delegation from a copper producing country or industrialized country may not be excited by a visit to the Copperbelt.  However, it may prefer to visit the game parks.  In some cases, delegations outline their preferences, based on their knowledge of the country.

Once the programme has been approved, letters are written to all the institutions involved in the execution of the programme.  The Department always works hand in hand with the officer appointed as Secretary to the Delegation for the execution of the programme and co-ordination of events.

State Opening of Parliament and Budget Address

During the Annual State Opening of Parliament by H.E. the President of the Republic, the main role of the Department is to ensure that the programme of the event, the invitation cards are printed and to usher invited dignitaries to the Diplomatic and Mr. Speaker’s Galleries. To assist in the ushering task in the Diplomatic Gallery are Protocol Officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are familiar with the Diplomats accredited to Zambia.  The Department is also involved in the arrangements of the Hon. Mr. Speaker’s Reception after the President’s address to Parliament.

The Department also co-ordinates with the Ministry of Finance regarding the annual presentation of the Budget by the Hon. Minister of Finance and the Budget Reception. The Department is responsible for organising media coverage of all Parliamentary activities and events.  This includes arranging for press releases and any other information on Parliament to the public. The Department also acts as a link between Departments in terms of assisting the flow of information and co-ordination of the various parliamentary activities.  In this respect, the Department liaises with other Departments for the production of documents, which are used by Members of Parliament during conferences, seminars etc.

International Organisations

The Department services the following International Organisations:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)

Founded as the Empire Parliamentary Association in 1911, the CPA adopted its present name in 1948. It is made up of Branches from Commonwealth countries, which have parliamentary institutions.  The Branches are grouped in Regions, namely: Africa; Asia; Australia and Pacific; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; South East Asia; West Indies, Central and South American Mainland.  Its main aim is the pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.  This aim is achieved through the holding of conferences, seminars, exchange of visits and publication of materials relating to the Association.  The main organs of the Association are the General Assembly, the Executive Committee and the London-based Secretariat.  The Society for Clerks-at-the-Table is the professional body for senior Commonwealth Parliamentary officials.

The Zambia Branch of the CPA fully participates in the activities of the Association by attending seminars, conferences, and exchanging parliamentary delegations with other Branches.  The Honourable Mr. Speaker is the ex-officio President of the Branch while the Clerk of the National Assembly is the Honorary Secretary Treasurer and an ex-officio member of the Branch.  Other members of the Executive Committee of the Branch are two Vice-Presidents and five ordinary members.  The Branch meets annually to discuss its activities.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)

Founded in 1889, the IPU has a membership of over 137 parliaments.  Membership fluctuates from time to time due to the dissolution of parliamentary systems by military regimes mainly in the developing countries.  The main aim of the Union is to bring together parliaments of the world and afford them an opportunity to participate in building strong representative organs and, through these, promote peace and unity in the world.  The organs of the Union are the Inter-Parliamentary Conference, the various Committees and the Geneva-based Secretariat.  The Union achieves its objectives through conferences, study groups and various publications.  The Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments is the professional body for parliaments’ senior officials.

The Zambia National Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union is an active member of the Union.  It participates in all the conferences it is invited to by the Union.  The Honourable Mr. Speaker is the President of the Group and the Clerk is the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer of the Group.  Both are ex-officio members of the Executive Committee of the Group, whose other members are two Vice-Presidents and five members.  The Group holds an Annual General Meeting to discuss its activities.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and European Union (EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) is set up pursuant to the provisions of the Partnership Agreement between the Members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States on the one part and the European Community and its Member States on the one part. The JPA was created out of a common desire to bring together the elected representatives of the European Community, that is, the Members of the European Parliament, and the representatives of the Parliaments of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of states that are party to the Partnership Agreement. The JPA is therefore composed of equal numbers of parliamentarians from the European Parliament and from 77 of the 78 ACP countries. This translates into 77 Members from the EU Parliament and 77 from the ACP side. The term of office for each representative is three years.

The ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed on 23 June 2003, in Cotonou, Benin, is the successor to the various Lome Conventions that had been the framework of development cooperation between the ACP and the EU since the first Lome Convention was signed in 1975.  The JPA plays the important role of ensuring that there is Parliamentary input into the work of the Partnership Agreement. The National Assembly of Zambia is represented on the on the JPA and it has been the practice for the Hon Mr. Speaker to nominate an ordinary Member for this responsibility.  

The role of the Department in the three International Organisations above is to administer the affairs of these bodies in relation to travel duties, preparation of annual reports and arranging annual general meetings for the CPA Zambia Branch and the Zambia National Group of the IPU, respectively.  An up-to-date list of members of the annual general meetings is prepared by selected staff of the National Assembly, in conjunction with the staff of the Department.  The Department, therefore, assists the Honorary Secretary/Treasurer in running the affairs of the Branch of the Association and the National Group of the Union.

Voluntary Groups

The Department is also charged with the responsibility of servicing the following voluntary groups:-

Amani Zambia Chapter

The Amani is a Forum for Parliamentarians from the Great Lakes Region whose main objective is to work to eliminate the causes of armed conflict and promote peace and reconciliation where conflict has erupted.

The Zambia all-Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (ZAPPD)

This organization was formed in 1996 by a group of Parliamentarians as a Non-Governmental Organization to provide a forum for discussion by Members of Parliament and interested organisations on population, development and reproductive health rights and issues and, further, encourage and promote parliamentary activities and programmes which are aimed at the quality of life and welfare of Zambians, especially of women and children. The Public Relations Department offers all the necessary Secretarial support to ZAPPD.

Zambian Women Parliamentarians’ Caucus

The main objective of the Caucus is to provide a forum for discussion on matters affecting women in the country, the SADC region, in the Commonwealth and other regions.  It is also aimed at promoting and helping sensitise all Parliamentarians to the principles of gender equality; and facilitating the effective implementation of projects on gender issues. The Public Relations Department provides Secretarial support to the activities of the Caucus.