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Zihrm Background


The Zambia Institute of Human Resource Management (ZIHRM) has been in existence for more than 20 years, having seen its light of day in 1997. The 16th to date.

This write-up introduces to a cross spectrum of audiences some salient aspects of ZIHRM, its historical background, purpose and mandate, status quo, and future outlook.

Historical Background: The Need to Professionalize the HRM Practice

The need to professionalize the practice of HRM as far back as Zambia’s pre independence era is what actually necessitated the formation of ZIHRM in 1997 and, earlier, its forerunner, the Zambia Institute of Personnel Management (ZIPM) in 1967. The HR Reforms that have taken place in Zambia, in particular, and worldwide in general testify to the desire, especially by the HR Practitioners themselves, to professionalize the HRM practice.



In recent times the HRM profession has been subjected to reforms in various countries such as Canada, Germany, and South Africa (Van Rensburg et al, 2011); Kenya (Odiyo, 2013), and Zambia (Miyoba, 1997). Reforms in HRM have included the enacting of laws that make it mandatory for the HRM practitioners to possess a practicing license from their respective professional bodies. This entails, in the case of Zambia as per proposed amendment to the ZIHRM Act, criminalizing illegal practicing of the HRM occupation by individuals masquerading as HR Practitioners (Zambia Daily Mail, June 10, 2015). Further, the reforms have involved the raising of the qualification framework in HRM by introducing higher qualifications such as Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in HRM, as well as by making it mandatory for HRM practitioners to be well versed in local Labour laws (Van Rensburg et al, 2011; and Alabduljader, 2012), like the Zambian Labour laws which include the Employment Act, Industrial and Labour Relations Act, and ZIHRM Act etc., for example.

In Zambia, the issue of professionalism in HRM has been dealt with through the legal processes. This may be traced to 1967 when the ZIPM was established through the Companies Ordinance Act. Later, of course, ZIPM was replaced with the ZIHRM which got established in 1997 through an Act of parliament, Cap 11 of 1997 with a mandate to regulate and promote professionalism in HRM in Zambia.

Professionalism in this case entails that the HRM Practitioners must adhere to, or comply with, their professional Code of Ethics. In simple terms, a Code of Ethics, is a set of guidelines aimed at providing answers to questions like: ‘what is right or wrong; good or bad, and beneficial or harmful regarding decisions by HR practitioners pertaining to dealings with stakeholders?’ (Weiss, 2003). Furthermore, professionalism is manifested by the said practitioners through a display of traits or core values which include transparency, courtesy, honesty, and integrity, when dealing with stakeholders such as employers and employees (De Vries and Kim, 2011).

In Zambia, like in many parts of the world, attempts to professionalize HRM was characterized by notable efforts which have, infact, contributed to the raising of HRM from a simple occupation to a much more respectable profession. These efforts included the following: establishment of a professional association (ZIHRM) through an Act of Parliament, establishment of a Code of Ethics, participation by the Institute in designing and reviewing of syllabi for HRM courses in training institutions; achieving recognition amongst the citizenry and other professions like Law, Accountancy, Medicine, and Engineering; and commitment to the Zambian society through offering advice and guidance on HR and labour matters to stake holders including public and private sectors.

Formation of the Zambia Institute of Personnel Management


According to Silavwe (1995) the first step towards creating ZIPM was initiated by a Joseph Mulikita about 1964. Mulikita was working in the Personnel department of Anglo-American Corporation in Kitwe, having earlier worked for Rhokana Corporation in the same job. Later he worked as a Personnel Manager at Diacarb in Ndola, before relocating to Fabrics Limited in Kabwe in the same capacity. He collaborated with professionals in Personnel Management and in Trade Unionism.

And after prolonged consultations, ZIPM got established on 3rd July 1967, at its first Annual General Meeting (AGM), with the election of an executive Committee chaired by Matthew Mwendapole – who had actually been interim Chairperson of the Committee formed earlier in 1965 to spearhead the formation of ZIHPM. According to Lombe (2012), a formal application to register the Institute under the Companies Ordinance (Cap 216 of the laws of Zambia) was made to the Registrar of Companies. On 4 th December 1967 the Institute was registered as a Limited Company by guarantee, and issued with a certificate of incorporation No. 4641 together with a certificate of entitlement.

The aim of ZIPM was to develop HRM into a fully-fledged profession. Silavwe (1995) states that this was to be achieved by the Institute by: spreading information about its practice; promoting investigation and research in HRM; and establishing high standards of qualifications through training. In addition, ZIPM aimed to advise, and collaborate with stakeholders like employing agencies, government, training institutions, and professional associations on HRM matters.

To achieve its aspirations, the ZIPM organized a series of seminars in Lusaka and Copperbelt supported by the Department of Extra Mural studies of the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation (MEF) in Kitwe (Lombe, 2010). Furthermore, the Institute held its first National Conference in Ndola on 18th March 1972 which was attended by 200 delegates. At the same conference a new Executive Council, chaired by F.C. Sumbwe, was elected with the mission of reorganizing the Institute, reviewing the constitution of the Institute, increasing the membership, promoting training and research, raising finances, promoting public relations.

Subsequent meetings were held including the second ZIPM National Conference held from 29th to 30th July 1972 whose theme was to identify the role, functions and professional status of Personnel Management in Zambia … vis-à-vis …. the social, economic and cultural development of the country (Lombe, 2010). Above all the membership to the Institute was steadily growing, so that by April 1982 there were 680 registered practitioners (Lombe, 2010).

Inspite of some notable achievements scored, ZIPM was, however, not fully successful in professionalizing the HRM occupation. For instance, as ZIPM Journal of 1987, quoted in Silavwe (1995), reports the Institute’s admission criteria “were far too liberal” resulting in a high proportion of the membership that “was of the caliber not befitting a professional organization”; it admitted persons to membership without administering examinations for them, nor ascertaining their training in Personnel Management; and it did not give guidance “to training institutions offering courses in Personnel work” (Silavwe, 1995).

Besides these challenges, the ZIPM experienced inactivity between 1969 and 1970 due to differences among the Executive members, with some wishing to turn the Institute into a trade union, while others wanted to strengthen it as a professional body (Lombe, 2010). Above all, there was a transformation from Personnel Management to HRM.

Establishment of ZIHRM

As the developments alluded to above were unfolding in Zambia in respect of HRM, other changes were taking root globally. For instance, in the 1980s, as noted earlier, Personnel Management evolved into HRM. Such developments influenced changes in Zambia where ZIPM was changed to ZIHRM. But even more importantly, this change went beyond the simple aspect of nomenclature. According to Lombe (2010), the ZIHRM was registered by an Act of Parliament Cap No. 11 of 1997 and subsequently assented to by the head of state on 12 th April 1997 at a ceremony that was attended by 150 members from across the country. Lombe (2010) further reports that the then Minister of Labour and Social Security on 3rd October 1997 brought into force the commencement order of the ZIHRM.

The ZIHRM was established under Section 3 of the ZIHRM Act No. 11 of 1997 to regulate, promote and develop the science and practice of HRM in Zambia.

In terms of structure, ZIHRM is governed by a Council. The Council is composed of six (6) elected office bearers as follows: President and Vice President, Secretary and Vice Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Treasurer, and two elected members referred to as ‘Councilors’. In addition, the ZIHRM Act section 18 provides for one representative of the Attorney General (ZIHRM Act, section 18). Also included in the Council is the position of Immediate Past President (IPP) who is normally coming from the previous Council as President to play the role of advisor to the current Council.

It is important to note that since 1997 to date (2017), ZIHRM has had eight (8) Presidents, representing twelve (12) Councils that the institute has had, as indicated below:

Council Number

Name of President


1st Council

Mr. Humphrey I. Mwanza

1997 – 2000

2nd Council

3rd Council

Mr. Masautso E. Nyathando

2001 – 2005

4th Council

5th Council

Mr. Hobby M. Kaputa

2006 – 2009

6th Council

7th Council

Ms. Namucana C. Musiwa

2009 – 2011

8th Council

9th Council

Mr. Winner Kanyembo

2011 – 2013

10th Council

Mr. Andrew Chisala

2013 – 2015

12th Council

Mr. Mooka Silumbu

2017 - 2019

2019 - 2021


The Council is assisted by a Disciplinary Committee and several Functional Committees – established in accordance with the ZIHRM Act Cap No. 11 of 1997 – whose number varies from Council to Council. For example, the current Council is organized around five Functional Committees: Governance, Compliance and Standards; Marketing and Business Development; Research and Consultancy; Finance and Administration; and Disciplinary Committees.

Furthermore, the Council is assisted by a full time secretariat staff headed by the Registrar as Chief Executive Officer. Currently the staff establishment at the secretariat is ten (10) employees – with nine based in Lusaka, and one based at the Kitwe Office.

These organs – i.e., Council, Functional Committees and Secretariat - carry out activities aimed at fulfilling the main objective or function of the Institute, namely: promoting and regulating the practice and science of the HR profession.

Functions of ZIHRM:

According to the ZIHRM Act (section 4) the aim of ZIHRM is to entrench and promote professionalism in HRM. Hence, its functions are to:

(a) Carry out training of persons involved in HRM;

(b) Raise the standards of HRM as a means of increasing productivity and efficiency;

(c) Carry out research related to HRM in order to develop HRM in Zambia;

(d) Publish a journal of the institute, and collect, collate and publish other information of service and interest to the Institute;

(e) Encourage, uphold and improve the standards of professional ability of persons engaged in HRM and Industrial Relations;

(f) Maintain close contact with technical colleges, universities, professional institutions, government departments, commercial institutions, and similar international institutions so as to improve the quality of HRM;

(g) Undertake and execute any trusts which are conducive to any of the objectives of the institute;

(h) Take proper action on all matters affecting the duties and responsibilities of its members; and

(i) Do all such other things as are incidental to the foregoing or conducive to the attainment of the objectives of the Institute.

Equipped with these functions, ZIHRM is expected to promote professionalism in HRM in Zambia. But a question arises as to whether the institute has been able to live up to its mandate since inception in 1997. This is obviously a discussion for another day. Suffice it to state, though, as observed earlier, that the Institute has scored success along the way; and has encountered challenges too. These two sides of the coin are useful for reflection as the Institute looks into the future.

Future Outlook

The successive Councils of the Institute have all come up with ideas meant to raise the profession to greater heights. In the recent past, for example, a number of exciting ideas have been floated for implementation.


· The Institute has embarked on an ambitious project of constructing an ultra-modern and multi-purpose Center of Excellence on a plot acquired in Lusaka’s State lodge in 2014.

· A Women’s forum or Initiative has been formed to spearhead the interests of the female Human Resource Practitioners.

· In order to better discharge its statutory mandate, the Council has a Branch on the Copperbelt (the Northern Branch) to reach out to North-Western, Luapula, Northern and Muchinga provinces of the Zambia. Eventually this is to be replicated in all the provinces of the country for ease service delivery to the members.

· The Institute has been collaborating with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in labour inspections. A programme of such inspections to be conducted by the ZIHRM on its own across the country is under way.

· Amendment of the ZIHRM Act to make it more responsive to the needs of the present day.

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