THREE Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have insisted that the current composition of Cabinet, Provincial Ministers and nominated members of parliament was not constituted in compliance with the Constitution.
They argue that the President’s appointments did not reflect either the requisite gender parity or equitable representation of youths and persons with disabilities.
In this matter, Chapter One Foundation Limited, Non-Governmental Organisations’ Coordinating Committee for Gender and Development Registered Trustees, and Young Women in Action have petitioned the Constitutionl Court, seeking a declaration that the current composition of Cabinet and Provincial Ministers is unconstitutional.
The petitioners who cited the Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as the respondent, want the court to declare that in nominating members of parliament and making the ministerial appointments relative to the current Provincial Ministers and Cabinet, the President did not adopt a procedure which ensured gender parity in the nomination and appointment.
The NGOs further want the court to issue an order of mandamus directing the President to, within 90 days reconstitute the Cabinet by the powers vested in him by the Constitution to align the appointment procedures and composition of the Cabinet with the Constitutional requirements outlined in Article 259 of the Constitution.
However, the State had asked the court to dismiss the petition, arguing that the petitioners were indirectly bringing civil proceedings against the President in the performance of his executive functions, which executive functions was the appointment of Cabinet and Provincial Ministers.
The State submitted that that Article 259(1) of the Constitution made it the prerogative of the President to nominate or appoint any person to a public office, adding that with regard to nominated MPs, it’s the discretion of the Head of State where he considers it necessary to enhance the representation of special interests, skill or gender.
But according to skeleton arguments in support of the petition, the petitioners urged the Court to grant them the prayers they were seeking in the petition.
They argued that it was an undisputed fact that the President in fact appointed eight MPs of which six were men and only two were female.
The petitioners added that none of these nominated MPs was either a youth or a person with disability.
The NGOs stated that it was further undisputed that the President appointed 10 Provincial Ministers and 30 Cabinet Ministers per his mandate in Article 116 (1) and Article 117 (1) of the Constitution.
They stated that of the 10 Provincial Ministers, none are women, youths or persons with disability.
The petitioners further stated that of the 30 appointed Cabinet Ministers, only nine are women and none are either youths or persons with disability.
“It is clear that the President in nominating or appointing MPs, Cabinet and Provincial ministers did not reflect either the requisite gender parity or equitable representation of the youths and persons with disabilities. In fact the respondent does not deny that less women have been nominated and appointed as MPs, Cabinet and Provincial Ministers. Neither do they deny that the youths and persons with disability have not been nominated or appointed. As a result, the current composition of Cabinet, Provincial Ministers and nominated MPs was not constituted on compliance with the Constitution,” they stated.
“The petitioners have also shown that the President acted in violation of the Constitution in appointing the Cabinet Ministers, Provincial Ministers and in nominating the MPs. Accordingly, these appointments are unconstitutional and the respondent has not shown any viable defence to the action. Accordingly, we pray that the Court grants the prayers in the petition to the petitioners.”