ZAMBIAN PARLIAMENT IS BACKWARD ON RATIFICATION OF APPOINTEES

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Nelly Mutti
Nelly Mutti

ZAMBIAN PARLIAMENT IS BACKWARD ON RATIFICATION OF APPOINTEES

By Isaac Mwanza

There has been a long tradition of 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 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 need 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 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.

Parliament itself must also reform. They must learn from what is happening in Kenya, South Africa and the United States when it comes to proceedings on ratification of Presidential appointees. South Africa which recently became independent, has overtaken us in both the quality of free debates in the House and transparency in the ratification process of appointees.

The National Assembly keep wasting money sending MPs to other countries to share lessons on parliamentary processes and debates. There is no justification of sending MPs or Committees out when our National Assembly is stuck in colonial traditions and management of the House.

Madam Speaker, your fellow Speaker in the House of Commons has stopped putting on that wig!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Ba Isaac trying to be relevant yamuvutani . I was surprised when you offered to go and solicit for ratification in favour of the recent appointees. In what capacity and using which authority?
    Suddenly Nellie and all high court judges wearing that wig and dress is colonial? Please we have better things for the National Assent to be concerned about policy matters than her wearing the official approved attire. As for use of English, suddenly you find it offensive? You have failed to sabotage governance if this country by a lawfully elected govt in place. Just coil back into your corner; or is this part of you key performance indicators in order to be paid by your sponsors? Saying anything no matter how ridiculous. OF losing was a true blessing to us, you would have been filthy rich by way of paying you for your useless social debates.

  2. Isaac calm down on this subject first of all. What is meant by the Oath of Secreth and why is implying? a day ago the whole opposition was up in arms talking and creticising the Minister of Finance through Auditor General for appointing External Auditor which is also ain the Constitution. If the right to information and to freely express oneself is a constitutional right protected by Article 20 of the Zambian Constitution? why were you making such wild utterances as regards to appointments and confirmations where you have no knowledge of how they are arrived at which were not substantiated. The Civil Sociate and some citizens including Security agents of the civil Service are players in such selections and verting, if they don’t consult you it doesn’t mean they don’t do so it is because you are not a factor at the topic in discussion otherwise you matter in society as well time will come when you will be necessary just offer constructive criticism they will approach you for your valuable knowledge, Retired Chief executives. managers in various Non and Government organizations, Civil Servants, Retired Judges, the Clergy and many more. Trained academicians and Civil Society in various fields do help in advising the Government. The advisors to Government are not only Politicians. Many Zambians know more than you Politicians and when they advise they do so from an informed and written statutes. Your proposal for State Organs such as Parliament and the Courts in enforcing and maintaining the law by abandoning the oath of secrecy so that people like you can get information and abuse if like your friends is not only unwise but scandalous to the State and the nation. Traditions are built on Secrets and oath then what more on the nation in managing their proceedings.

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