The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Zambia at the end of its ninetieth session on 3 June. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.
Presentation of Report
MULAMBO HAIMBE, Minister of Justice of Zambia and head of the delegation, said Zambia had held Presidential and Parliamentary elections in , resulting in the election of the new President and his administration. This administration was now referred to as the new dawn government, as a symbol of the renewed trust in the legal and institutional framework of Zambia.
The Zambian Government remained committed to the protection and promotion of children’s rights. Zambia had initiated the process of constitutional review, which would focus on developing the most effective approaches toward constitutional reform and an enhanced bill of rights, which would incorporate the rights of children. Zambia had also launched the eighth national development plan, which incorporated the globally accepted Sustainable Development Goals and took into account obligations set out under the Convention.
Mr. Haimbe said the child code bill 2022 had also been approved and was awaiting presentation to the full cabinet, before submission to parliament. The intention was to have the bill tabled before parliament during its sitting, with the bill potentially able to be in force and assented by . The enactment of the social workers association of Zambia act 2022 aimed to regulate and promote professional social work practice in Zambia, which was critical for the care and protection of children.
Another development was the introduction of free education for primary and secondary schooling. To support this, the Government was recruiting 30,000 teachers for early childhood, primary and secondary schools. The school grant was expanded both in terms of amount and reach, covering public, community, and grant-aided schools. The compensatory grants to schools covered school costs such as uniforms, shoes, menstrual hygiene supplies for girls and school supplies. Through the rollout of the free education policy, there had been a circa 300 per cent increase in the disbursement of school grants for primary schools, leading to increased enrolment and school retention rates. The free education policy aimed to ensure that primary and secondary education was free, without hidden costs.
The Government was further recruiting more than 11,000 health workers to ensure the adequacy of the health workforce, aimed at a sustained commitment to realising universal health coverage. The State party had placed emphasis on fiscal decentralisation to sub-district levels through a constituency development fund, thereby taking development closer to the people. This aimed to ensure access to quality health services and personnel, particularly in rural areas.
Mr. Haimbe said that despite the progressive development highlighted, there had been challenges, including limited infrastructure in the education and health sectors; limited fiscal space for implementation; inadequate human resources, in the health, education and the social protection sectors; and high child poverty levels. He pledged Zambia’s commitment towards compliance with its international obligations.
Questions by Committee Experts
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Zambia, said the Committee was counting on the new dawn government to protect and enhance children’s rights in Zambia. Mr. Madi expressed concern that Zambia had not ratified the three Optional Protocols to the Convention and asked what steps needed to be taken to ratify these Optional Protocols? There was also concern that the defence act allowed the recruitment of children under the age of 18 in the army. Was the current Government preparing a new child policy, or at least extending the current one which had expired? Had the national development plan been adopted already? If so, did it include a strategy for early childhood development and childhood participation? What measures had been taken to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the budget for children? What measures were in place to ensure that budgetary lines for children were protected?