Action Aid Zambia says it is morally wrong for a Cabinet Minister to remain in office while facing corruption investigations or any other
allegations of corruption in nature.
Action Aid Zambia Country Director Nalucha Ziba says while the principle of ‘innocence until proven guilty’ is legally recognized, failure to do so has the potential to promote compromise in leadership.
With direct reference to Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya who President Edgar Lungu says is innocent until proven guilty by the courts of law, Ms Ziba says regardless of the absence of a legal provision that allows the President to remove a Cabinet Minister on allegation of corruption, he can still act on moral grounds to demonstrate that he upholds national values.
Below is a full statement…
Explicitly, there is no provision that allows the President to suspend a Cabinet Minister from office on the grounds of an enquiry pending on the said Cabinet Minister. We cannot, however, depart from our determination as a people of the Republic of Zambia to ensure that our values concerning family, morality, patriotism and justice are maintained and that all functions of the State are carried out in our common interest.
This commitment is enshrined in our Constitution.
Part II of the constitution on National Values, Principles and Economic policies clearly outlines the principles of morality and ethics, good governance, and integrity.
These values are enshrined in our constitution which the President is obliged to report to the National Assembly once every year on the progress being made in applying the values and principles.
Based on the above, the President as an appointing authority and one who has sworn to protect the constitution including commitment to uphold morality should be able to demonstrate this by relieving the Cabinet Minister of his duties to enable an impartial process to take place. Similarly, it is a moral duty and responsibility of any Cabinet Minister being investigated to step aside to allow investigations to run without undue influence.
While the principle of ‘innocence until proven guilty’ is legally recognized, it is morally wrong for a minister to remain in office while facing corruption investigations or any other
allegations of this nature, as it has the potential to promote compromise in leadership. The fact that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is dealing with a high-ranking official of government; who exerts so much power and authority, there is a high likelihood of intimidation and interference; either direct or implied.
Part VII of our 2016 Constitution under Executive functions section 92, subsection 1, states ‘The President shall perform, with dignity, leadership and integrity, the acts that are necessary and expedient for, or reasonably incidental to, the exercise of the executive authority. Although not explicit, this is sufficient ground for the President to demonstrate the much-preached zero tolerance to corruption, and the need to uphold integrity in the office of the President and government.
Failure to exercise these powers from a moral standpoint raises a great deal of suspicion, and you cannot blame citizens when they insinuate conspiracy within senior leadership.
These are defining times, in our opinion, where the Head of State has an opportunity to walk the talk by upholding moral standards.
The President needs to demonstrate his principles on the call for every Zambian to uphold the National values particularly paying attention to key issues such as Integrity,
Transparency and Accountability which are key among government officials who occupy public office as they need to demonstrate principles to the general public that they are managing the public resources in a prudent manner.
It’s against this background that regardless of the absence of legal provision that allows the President to remove a Cabinet Minister on allegation of corruption.
It is our considered view that based on the moral grounds, The President can still act in order to demonstrate that he upholds the National values.
Nalucha Nganga Ziba