President can invite anyone to Cabinet sittings – Namugala

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala: file picture

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala says it is not illegal for provincial ministers to sit in Cabinet at the President’s request.

Deputy Speaker Namugala said this in Parliament yesterday after Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu rose on a point of order, seeking ruling on why provincial ministers had been sitting in Cabinet, when it was “illegal”.

“Now Madam Speaker, I have noted with concern that the government of the Republic of Zambia has allowed non-members of Cabinet to be sitting in Cabinet contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. I’m aware, that the draft bill, which they rejected themselves, had a provision where provincial ministers were supposed to sit as Ex-officials, I’m also alive to the provision that relates to the number of ministers that must be appointed by the President and we did pass an Act of Parliament prescribing the number of ministers it therefore follows that these others who are sitting in Cabinet. The danger Madam Speaker is that if we allow this illegality to continue one day we will have a President who will allow party cadres to sit in Cabinet, that cannot be allowed to continue,” Mwimbu stated.

Mwiimbu, who is also leader of the opposition in the House, demanded an explanation on the alleged breach of the Constitution.

“The point of order, Madam Speaker, is this government in order to allow with impunity members who are not prescribed by the Constitution to continue sitting in Cabinet, making decisions on behalf of the people of Zambia when they are not supposed to be members of the Cabinet. Are they in order Madam Speaker to break the Constitution of Zambia with impunity and allow illegality to continue, taking into account that collectively all of us have sworn to defend and protect the Constitution of Zambia? Is her honour the Vice-President on behalf of the President of the Republic of Zambia in order to breach the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia with impunity? Are they in order Madam Speaker?” asked Mwimbu.

In response, Namugala clarified that the President was at liberty to invite anyone to Cabinet sittings; although that person would have no vote.

“The ruling of the Chair, honourable members, it is true that the Constitution of Zambia as amended in article 113 does give the composition of Cabinet, it is also true honourable members that the same Constitution in article 115, 6 clearly states and I quote ‘that the President may in consultation with the Secretary to Cabinet invite a person whose presence is desirable to attend and participate in the deliberations of a meeting of Cabinet but that that person shall have no vote’. So in responding to the point of order, the ruling of the Chair is that this is not an illegality,” said Deputy Speaker Namugala.

         

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