Saturday, June 15, 2024

Zambian Parliament Is Backward On Ratification Of Appointees

Share

By Isaac Mwanza

There has been a tradition of long secrecy at Parliament on the ratification of persons appointed to hold offices, and which are subject to ratification by the National Assembly.

The media has never been allowed to cover the ratification proceedings of appointees. Even appointees themselves are not present when witnesses are testifying on their suitability to hold office.

The scrutiny of appointees should never be a secret matter. It was in colonial times but many years after end of colonialism, we cannot have such secrecy proceedings in Parliament, the Peoples House.

But one cannot be surprised by what is happening at our Parliament. Even the recent debates where the freedom to debate among members is gagged, the behaviour by the Speaker and her two deputies to descend from their honourable chair to begin defending the Executive when the Executive are pressed to the corner speaks much about our National Assembly.

What has been happening in Parliament violates an MP’s freedom of speech and debate protected by Article 76(1) of the Constitution which states:

“76. (1) A Member of Parliament has freedom of speech and debate in the National Assembly and that freedom shall not be ousted or questioned in a court or tribunal.”

If the behaviour of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker was to happen in the South African Parliament against such a clear constitutional provision, the EFF led by Julius Malema would be tearing them apart.

What has been the worst with the National Assembly of Zambia has been its insistence on using the King’s language to debate and any use of expression from our local language is quickly frowned up with an MP being asked to interpret the same. This again is contrary to Article 258(2) of the Constitution of Zambia.

Now even amapinda from we have carried over from our forefathers needs to be interpreted into English because that is what the Colonial English man wanted when he left post-independence left our black leaders to preside over the National Assembly.

The right to information and to freely express oneself is a constitutional right protected by Article 20 of the Zambian Constitution. If State Organs such as Parliament and the Courts are in the forefront of maintaining archaic secrecy traditions in their proceedings, what more other institutions within the Executive.

The people are entitled to know what witnesses appearing before the Committee are saying about persons being scrutinised for ratification. The appointees themselves need to know what the witnesses are saying about them. This is called transparency and accountability.

I challenge mother bodies for media organisations to begin to take these cases to court and challenge the lack of transparency at Parliament, with regards proceedings that are held in camera.

Journalists must also not just wait for the Freedom of Information law to be passed, they must exercise their investigative skills to penetrate and get information. Time has shown that passing good laws is one thing but implementation is another. Usually, administrations and institutions including the courts find a way of circumventing process and avoid being bound by laws.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Our institutions are psyched and designed to protect the head of the Executive. They belabour to suppress any dissent. But they still fail and haven’t learned any lessons so far. When Zambians decide not to take it anymore they do it without exception. ECL employed every tactic to be on the ballot and was supported by the Judiciary but we kicked him out eventually. HH has began to employ similar tactics as seen in Kwacha and Kabushi but all that will be in vain when that moment comes. So it’s better to do the correct thing

    3
    1
  2. Fuseke let hh fulfill his outlandish promises. He said he will improve and make prisons and cells habitable. I don’t see anything habitable in this cell

Comments are closed.

Read more

Local News

Discover more from Lusaka Times-Zambia's Leading Online News Site - LusakaTimes.com

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading