The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) under the aegis of the Rule of Law Program for Sub Saharan Africa developed an easy reference booklet that summarises the Bill of Rights as espoused in the constitution of Zambia.

In partnership with the African Union Social and Economic Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) and the University of Zambia School of Law (UNZA), the Centre successfully launched the Zambian booklet on 05 May 2022. The launch included a round-table dialogue with UNZA students from a diverse cross-section of faculties with the aim to promote constitutional literacy and civic engagement beyond the confines of legal education.

The booklet provides the rich history of Zambia’s constitution; it’s approach to the separation of power; the three arms of government; structure of the court system in Zambia and an introduction to the Bill of Rights. The aim of the booklet is to promote human rights and constitutional literacy among citizens in order to empower citizens to effectively participate in governance issues. Constitutional literacy can better assist Zambian citizens to protect their human rights while fulfilling their responsibilities as provided for in the constitution

The launch was attended by dignitaries representing the High Commissions and Embassies of various African countries in Zambia; officials from the government of the Republic of Zambia; members of Academia; the Media and Civil Society Organisations. In his opening remarks, Mr Kyretiwe Osei, Head of Programmes at the AU ECOSOCC noted that civil society is a core factor in sustaining democracy and therefore, the African Union project towards a reformed Africa is plausible if it embraced civil society as the building block between people and governments.

Central Africa

Ms Bonolo Makgale, the Programme Manager of the Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit, CHR introduced the content of the booklet and stated that despite the elaborate and comprehensive Bill of Rights in most constitutions in Africa, the protection and enjoyment of fundamental rights remains relatively low. Therefore, the recognition, protection and promotion of human rights is no longer a contemplative subject but a crucial ingredient in governance, sustainable development, and stable societies.  The Constitution of Zambia is the product of many years of commitment to constitution making after 1991. While the Bill of Rights has not changed since independence due to the referendum threshold and can be better by reflecting Zambia’s international and regional human rights obligations, it still remains in its current form, a potent tool for human rights protection in Zambia.

Dr Stefanie Rothenberger, the Director of the Rule of Law Program for Anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, emphasised the importance of civic education and the need raise awareness on basic human rights as enshrined in various constitutions in Africa and lobby for the enforcement of fundamental human rights.  Dr Rothenberger remarked that ‘A constitution comes to true life when citizens know it is there and are adequately informed of its content.’

The booklets are a valuable contribution to existing advocacy tools on raising awareness among citizens because a knowledgeable and empowered citizen is best placed to demand, question and seek appropriate remedies against gross human rights violations.

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Ms Bonolo Makgale
Programme Manager Democracy and Civic Engagement Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4199
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743


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