Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu says the Constitutional Court’s ruling on former ministers who remained in office after the dissolution of Parliament is not credible because judges did not conduct a thorough research.
And Zulu says there is no course to warrant the impeachment of President Edgar Lungu for allowing ministers to stay in office after Parliament was dissolved because he acted within the provisions of the constitution.
Debating a motion to ratify the appointment of justice Martin Musaluke to serve as Constitutional Court judge, Zulu argued that there were a number of lacunas within the Constitution which were making judges to make uninformed types of judgments.
“The Constitutional Court has not been able to delve into the Bill of Rights and the Chief Justice only has administrative authorities, what is missing in this Constitution of ours is that we have a judiciary where the Chief Justice has no say except for administrative authority. This calls on us to look closely at our Constitution and see the areas that need to be worked on so that we have a robust judiciary that is accountable to the people from whom they derive their authority. We need to make necessary amends that will improve the functions of the judiciary. Because of this, we have seen different kinds of judgments upon which my colleagues on the other side (oppositions MPs) have said ‘pay back the money, we have heard the judgment that the Court has passed’ and we are left to wonder, indeed the read there is this judgment and indeed there is this ruling from the Courts but then again we need…,” Zulu said before he was interrupted.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala told the minister not to debate the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
However, Zulu insisted on debating the matter of judgment claiming to put things right for the opposition members of parliament.
“Thank you madam Speaker, I will try and be cautious in my debate. Having listened to the calls by our colleagues (opposition MPs) in relation to the former ministers and relating to the fact that the President did go against the Constitution, I would like to argue that the President did not breach the Constitution at all because he based his understanding on the fact that the Constitution itself provides that Ministers will vacate the office upon assumption of office by another President, that is where the President based his argument and the President did look at the interpretation Act when he made that decision,” Makebi said as Namugala again interrupted him to emphasise that he could not debate the ConCourt’s ruling.
“Minister, order! You are not just counsel but you are also minster in government and as it is, this court is a creation of the Constitution and the Constitution has given the court powers which it should exercise at some point and I expect you honourable minister not just to respect and defend the constitution but also the institutions created by the Constitution. For that reason alone, I want you to totally refrain from that kind of debate,” guided Namugala.
Zulu followed Namugala’s guidance but shortly afterwards went astray.
“Much obliged madam Speaker, I have heeded to your guidance and I am in no way referring to the Constitutional Court but I am referring to the President on the debate to say he breached the Constitution and should be impeached. I am disagreeing to that and that’s the part I am going to respond to. So when the President made that decision to say the ministers will continue because of this particular provision of the constitution. There is no course to warrant the impeachment of the President because he acted on the Constitution. So the appointment and the continuity in office of ministers that were in office, not withstanding the fact that the court should not have been… it does not nullify or make illegal what they did while in that office because this was done within the provisions of the law and there is no need at all to impeach the President, there is no need for that impeachment whatsoever,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zulu challenged the newly appointed judges to conduct all the necessary research before they could finally determine a matter laid before them.
“What we need to address now is that the crop of judges that we are about to ratify today, we urge them to be thorough in their research and in their judgment in accordance with the judgment act so that the people out there will be able to have confidence in our system. Confidence in the system requires that the law is applied fairly and evenly to all citizens, it requires that legal reasoning should be able to stand a test of time but unfortunately we have a constitution that can not necessarily stand a test of time because of the lacunas that we find ourselves in and it will be incumbent upon us as members of parliament to work together so that we have a Constitution that will serve our purposes,” said Zulu.
Justice Martin Musaluke becomes the sixth judge of the Constitutional Court of Zambia