National Assembly of Zambia, Lusaka

Zambia became a republic immediately on attaining independence in 1964. The 1996 constitution provides for an executive president who is head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He or she is limited to two five-year terms, and is elected by universal adult suffrage.

The vice-president and the cabinet are appointed by the president from the National Assembly. The cabinet is responsible for formulating policy and for advising the president on policy. It is accountable to the National Assembly.

The legislative powers of the republic are vested in parliament, which consists of the president and the National Assembly. The 150 members of the National Assembly are elected every five years from single-member constituencies. The president has the power to appoint eight special members of the National Assembly, five of whom can serve in the cabinet.

The constitution contains a bill of rights, setting out fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, which include freedom from discrimination on the grounds of race, tribe, gender, place of origin, marital status, political opinions, colour or creed.

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. The Supreme Court and the High Court are both presided over by the chief justice. The Supreme Court is the constitutional court and the final court of appeal. The High Court has unlimited civil and criminal jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction in respect of appeals from the lower courts.

The subordinate courts are magistrates’ courts and have limited jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases. The local courts are only concerned with cases of customary law and very minor criminal matters. Other courts include the Industrial Relations Court and small claims courts.

Judges of the Supreme Court and High Court are appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, subject to ratification by the National Assembly. Judges have tenure of office until they retire.