Prominent constitutional lawyer and state counsel John Sangwa has weighed in the current debate that newly inaugurated President Hakainde Hichilema has delayed announcing his cabinet pending the swearing in of members of parliament.
Sangwa has clarified that the president can appoint his cabinet even before the swearing in of elected Members of Parliament (MP), bring closure to views that the perceived delay in announcing cabinet is a result of legal impediments.
The constitutional lawyer however clarified that said the elected Members of Parliament cannot transact the business of the house or take their position as members of parliament until they have taken oath or have been sworn in, as required by law.
Speaking in an exclusive interview, Sangwa said the oath is a necessary requirement before the elected members of parliament can start performing the functions of their office.
He said one is a member of parliament the moment they are declared duly elected or winner of a parliamentary seat but the swearing in is a formality which is required before one begins doing the actual work as an MP.
“Just like ministers, even if he appoints them, they won’t just assume office they have to be sworn in, to take oath, so a person that is elected member of parliament once nominated minister he will not assume the office unless he has taken oath”, he said.
Sangwa said there is no timeframe set in which the president should appoint his cabinet but the earlier one does it, the better. “For example, President Lungu must have mentioned some cabinet ministers when he was sworn in in 2016, on the same day he was able to identify a few people as his ministers so there is really no timeline set, it is all based on the discretions of the president”, he said.
President Hichilema has been accused of delaying the announcement of his cabinet when its now over one week from the time he was pronounced winner of the 12 August 2021 polls by the Electoral Commission of Zambia