Human Rights Disability Activist, Elijah Ngwale, has suggested to President Edgar Lungu to elevate Provincial Ministers to Cabinet Ministers so that they, too, sit in Cabinet meetings rather than deputy Ministers.
Cabinet usually holds meetings every week on Monday at State House and such meetings are chaired by the Head of State or the Vice President or in absence of the two, an appointed Cabinet Minister.
Mr Ngwale observed that Provincial Ministers should be sitting in Cabinet meetings to represent the people in provinces instead of all those at government line ministers.
Speaking in an interview with ZANIS in Lusaka today, Mr Ngwale said allowing deputy Ministers to attend Cabinet meetings would signify the end of Cabinet in any government.
Mr Ngwale said it is a world-over norm that only Cabinet Ministers attend Cabinet meetings and deputy Ministers do not act as Cabinet Ministers in the absence of their bosses.
“I propose to President Lungu to elevate the 10 Provincial Ministers to Cabinet Ministers if the people in provinces are to benefit a lot from the policy direction of the government instead of just hearing from what the journalists write,” he said.
Mr Ngwale said it was better that Provincial Ministers sit in Cabinet meetings so that they explain to the people what government intends to do and not hearing the policy direction of government through the media.
He said people in provinces miss out when Cabinet sits and are only informed of government’s policy direction on matters of governance through the fourth estate, the media.
He opposed the decision by President Lungu who indicated early this year that he was working on modalities to integrate deputy Ministers into Cabinet meetings for them to effectively discharge Cabinet Ministers’ functions in the absence of substantive office-holders.
When he swore in Minister of Gender and Child Development Nkandu Luo and 29 deputy ministers in February this year, President Lungu also directed Vice-President Inonge Wina to ensure there is a ministerial statement each week in parliament explaining Government’s programmes.
President Lungu observed that there is no co-ordination between the Minister and the deputy Minister because a minister is usually working alone, saying but this should come to an end.
Mr Lungu said deputy Ministers struggle to give answers in Parliament because Cabinet Ministers usually work in isolation.
He said it was important that deputy Ministers are part of Cabinet meeting proceedings for them to work hand in hand with Ministers because they both serve the interests of citizens.
The Head of State disclosed that he would engage Ms Wina and Cabinet Office on how to successfully execute the inclusion of deputy ministers in Cabinet meetings.
He said it should be a policy, custom and practice that Cabinet Ministers work with their deputies and promote more interaction.