Arms of Government

The separation of powers entails the separation of the three arms of government; legislature, judiciary and executive

The Executive

The Executive is the branch of government that is responsible for the daily administration of enforcing the laws, formulating and implementing policies in the country. The Executive branch is headed by the Republican President, and includes the Cabinet, Government line ministries and public service departments.

Some of the functions of the Executive

  • Enforce the law that is made by parliament through the various law enforcement agencies such as the Zambia Police (ZP), Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) among others.
  • Formulate and implement government policies and programmes through various line ministries and other spending agencies such as: Youth Empowerment Policy under the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Child development, Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry etc.
  • Provide services such as health, education, state security etc.
  • Carry out delegated legislative functions such as issuing of Statutory Instruments.

The Legislature

The Legislative arm of government is responsible for making laws, repeals, amends and providing other oversight roles such as scrutinising government programmes and approving government financial estimates (budget).The legislative power of the Republic of Zambia is held by the National Assembly which consists of 156 directly elected members and not more than eight (8) members nominated by the President. It is headed by the speaker.

Some of the functions of the Legislature

  • Make laws.
  • Scrutinise government policies and programmes
  • Scrutinise government expenditure plans by making inputs into the national budget, to approve and monitor the national budget.
  • Looking closely at the actions of the executive and checking its powers so that the government is responsible and accountable. It does this through:
    • Ratify appointments made by the President of certain constitutional office holders, for example, the Chief Justice, the Chairperson and Members of the Electoral Commission etching
    • Reviewing the performance of governmnet ministries and departments
    • Checking on how government resources are used. By doing this it makes sure to prevent poor administration of public resources for all citizens to benefit.
    • Questions put to ministers by members of the National Assembly (Members of Parliament-MPs)
    • Motions submitted by back benchers which give members an opportunity to debate government policy on matters of public concern.

Note: The National Assembly has the power to impeach the President and the Vice – President for violating the Constitution or for gross misconduct.

The Judiciary

The Judiciary is the arm of government that is responsible for interpreting the laws made by the legislature. It has the power to adjudicate over legal matters and decide on legal disputes through courts. The Judiciary is created by the Constitution and is headed by the Chief Justice.

Some of the functions of the Judiciary

  • Interpreting the laws of Zambia
  • Adjudicating over legal matters
  • Deciding on legal disputes

Courts in Zambia

The Constitutional Court

  • Hears and determines matters relating to the Constitution.
  • Hears and determines matters relating to the Presidential election disputes emanating from nominations, first ballot and second ballot.
  • It attends to appeals from lower courts/tribunals
  • Its decision is final.

The Supreme Court

  • This is the final Court of Appeals.
  • Hears appeals from the Court of Appeals.
  • Hears appeals from the High Court

Note: Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court rank equivalently.

Court of Appeals

  • Hears appeals from High Court.

The High Court

  • Hears National Assembly election disputes that arise from nominations and the poll.
  • Hears appeals from Subordinate Courts except for matters under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court.

All members of the Judiciary are expected to be independent and impartial. They should carry out all their functions in accordance with the law.

Separation of Power

The principle of separation of powers means that there should be no overlap in the powers and functions of the different arms of government. It sets limits on the work of the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive. It provides checks and balances that prevent abuse of power by any of the three arms of government.

  • No arm of government should interfere with the functions and work of any of the other arms.
  • No arm of government should be more powerful than the others.
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