Embracing Technological Innovation: The Digital Response of the National Assembly of Zambia to COVID-19
About the National Assembly of Zambia. Written on March, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the normal functioning of organisations and institutions worldwide, including parliaments. In these unprecedented times, various legislative bodies have had to adapt and find innovative ways to ensure continuity in their operations. This essay provides an in-depth analysis of the digital response of the National Assembly of Zambia to the pandemic. It focuses on the challenges faced, the solutions implemented, and the measures taken to enhance the digital transformation of their legislative processes to ensure the fulfilment of their constitutional mandate.
Adapting to the New Normal
When COVID-19 hit Zambia, the National Assembly was faced with a critical decision: either find a way to ensure the continuity of parliamentary functions or risk jeopardising their constitutional mandate. As a result, the assembly took a proactive approach, first by amending the standing orders. This amendment allowed for the adoption of a hybrid system for parliamentary sittings, combining both in-person and remote participation of members.
This adaptation, however, required significant investments in the enhancement and expansion of the ICT infrastructure to support the new mode of operation. The National Assembly had to tackle issues such as ensuring stable video connections, providing sufficient internet bandwidth, and implementing redundancies to prevent connection failures. Additionally, tablets were procured for members of parliament to facilitate their remote participation in parliamentary proceedings, a move that was necessary to maintain the safety and health of the members during the pandemic.