ZCF Limited was originally established for a major role of advancing and coordinating co-operative development in order to improve the economic and social positions and quality of life of its members and the people of Zambia through successful practice of the Co-operative values, principles and practices. In regard to the aforesaid, this therefore entails that ZCF had a mandate to build the capacities of its members by providing technical, professional, commercial and other support services that were required to develop the livelihoods of its members and the citizens of Zambia in general. The mandate was successfully implemented with the assistance of the political will of the Government in the First and Second Republics under UNIP with a system of government then known as “one party participatory democracy”.
Act of 1970
The Government after independence of Zambia provided an enabling environment for the Co-operative Movement to flourish. The Government of Zambia challenged Co-operators to run and improve their business activities by providing a reasonable and favorable regulatory framework through the Co-operative Act of 1970 cap 689 of the Laws of Zambia. It was also enshrined in the Act clearly the 4 tiers Co-operative System (Primary-District-Province and ZCF)
The Third Republic of MMD Government under the leadership of President FTJ Chiluba fragmented the Co-operative Movement in 1992 with a view of scraping off the co-operatives from the National Agenda.
By 1996 the situation was worsened in that the Co-operative Movement was completely crippled to such an extent that destroyed the concept of ZCF Ltd.
Between 1996 and 1999
Between 1996 and 1999 assets of co-operatives were plundered while that which belonged to Government was withdrawn and given to the Food Reserve Agency thereby paralyzing the whole entire Co-operative Movement in Zambia.
Coming Of the Liberalization Government
With coming of liberalization government, unfortunately decided to sever its partnership with the cooperative movement and left all activities of rural development to the private sector. As a result of this change of policy agriculture production started declining and its effects were immediately felt through food deficits at both national and house hold level. This decline slowly led to the collapse of the cooperative movement through out the country.
Act No. 20 of 1998
Due to pressure from the farming communities to bring back co-operatives arising from the heavy set-backs experienced economically and socially, particularly in rural areas where the majority of the population live, the Government of the day then (Third Republic), considered to bring back the co-operatives, but in a new style that suited the leadership in power at the time. The new arrangement saw the enactment of a new Co-operative Act No. 20 of 1998 to repeal the earlier one of 1970, which removed the Four (4) -tier systems and further led to the disintegration of the Co-operative Movement.