Former Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says Attorney General Likando Kalaluka is failing in his duties by not guiding President Edgar Lungu and Cabinet Ministers to adhere to the Constitutional requirement of seeking Parliament’s approval before contracting any loans.
And Dr Sacika says firing Emerine Kabanshi should not be used as a smokescreen but rather, an inquiry must be set up to fish out all those who misused donor funds.
Recently, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya said the reason why Cabinet did not seek parliamentary approval before contracting loans like the US$30 million for upgrading of Mulungushi Conference Centre was because the clause in the constitution which provided for that was a lacuna.
But in an interview, Dr Sacika said it was illegal for government to contract loans without Parliament’s approval.
“Dora Siliya’s remarks on government contraction of debt are unfortunate and show a degree of ignorance and arrogance that is dangerous to society. The Constitution of Zambia is clear on how government should contract debt. Parliament must approve the debt before it is contracted. This is not a matter of choice but a constitutional and legal requirement. And there is no lacuna about it. I was a member of the Constitutional conference in 2013 at which this matter was discussed and approved. The conference decided to put a requirement in the constitution that compelled the executive to seek parliamentary approval before debt was contracted because the people of Zambia do not want their government to contract debt unnecessarily and reckless.y. Therefore, all the debt that has been contracted since the Constitution was enacted, without the approval of Parliament, are unconstitutional and illegal,” Dr Sacika said.
He observed that Kalaluka was failing in his duties by not guiding Cabinet to adhere to the Constitutional provision.
“When the Constitution says that the executive powers of the state are vested in the President, it does not mean that the President is free to act as he pleases. What it means is that the President shall exercise the powers of his office according to the requirements of the law of the land. If the President does not follow the law, he can be impeached and prosecuted now or after he has left office. What has happened to the Attorney General of Zambia that ministers can make statements of the type Dora Siliya made? It is the duty of the Attorney General to guide the President and his ministers on the requirements of the Constitution, that is why he is there. If the Attorney General does not do this, then he has failed and must give way to someone who will be bold enough to ensure that the rule of law is followed. I therefore challenge the Attorney General to state his position on the comments made by Dora Siliya. He must also tell the nation why he has allowed the government to contract debt contrary to the stipulations of the Constitution,” Dr Sacika said.
And Dr Sacika observed that the administrative inquiry which President Lungu ordered into the misuse of donor funds was not adequate.
“The President has told the people that he has instituted an investigation into the social cash scandal, how does he fire Emerine Kabanshi before the investigation is completed and the results are put in the public domain? An administrative inquiry such as the President says he has instituted does not suffice because the social cash transfer scandal has very serious implications on our relations with outside countries that support our government programs. If the Zambian government does not decisively deal with the problem of corruption, the donors will not be prepared to give us aid in future and this will affect us adversely. The President must therefore appoint a properly constituted Judicial Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the social cash transfer scandal with the view to punishing the offenders and making recommendations as to how a stop can be put to the misuse and theft of donor funds. Only in this way will the people of Zambia take the President seriously,” said Dr Sacika.
“There is rampant corruption in our system of governance because the system of control, management and accountability has completely broken down. Our public service has become a huge criminal enterprise where theft of public funds is the order of the day because the access of management controls has created numerous opportunities for public officers to engage in acts of corruption. The sacking of Emerine Kabanshi should not be a mere smokescreen to please the British and other donors. All the people involved in the misuse or theft of donor funds in question must be brought to account.”