SACCORD executive director Boniface Cheembe says the reintroduction of deputy ministers is a necessity as it will enhance Cabinet ministers’ quality of service delivery.

And Cheembe says the UPND’s refusal to support the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) resolutions should be respected.

In an interview, Cheembe argued that a government ministry should have deputy ministers to ensure accountability and efficiency in service delivery.

“Unlike in the past, they will be able to act in the absence the substantive ministers and also be in a position to represent the Ministry before Parliament, which means there will be a continuation of the works of a Ministry. Some ministries are incredibly busy and it becomes very difficult for them to be able to function without a Deputy Minister in place so in order to ensure that efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery by the ministries continues, it was advised that the position of deputy ministers be reintroduced,” Cheembe said.

“In any particular entity, you will always have a deputy, so having a Deputy Minister is something normal and we believe it will be progressive considering the fact that unlike in the past, the position of a Deputy Minister will now be given much more functions and, ultimately, they will be able to account for being in that position and for the work that they do.”

Cheembe insisted that deputy ministers enhanced Zambia’s governance in terms of public service delivery.

“The matter was not just arrived at from nowhere, it was subjected from extensive discussions and based on that persuasion of the need to have a Deputy Minister, we respect that input that went into making that decision and, yes, in view of the arguments that were put forward, we believe that it is something that is required in this country because it will not in any way shape or form affect other aspects of service delivery apart from actually enhancing quality of service delivery and ensuring that there are people who are able to make decisions in a Ministry. We want to believe that the extensive debate and exchange of ideas that went into the reintroduction of deputy ministers and, ultimately, the NDF agreeing to bring them back is something that was subjected to utter most transparency and accountability,” he said.

“Concerns were raised about resources of deputy ministers and it was made clear that they will not be getting a double pay; they will be getting the same amount of money that they would have been getting had they been in Parliament with maybe minor adjustments upwards that will not negatively affect the country’s resources.”

And Cheembe said the UPND’s refusal to support the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) resolutions should be respected.

“We believe that all citizens of Zambia have the right to exercise their freedom of expression where various national governance matters are concerned so we respect such positions that are guaranteed for by the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. So, if the UPND would like to not support the resolution of NDF that is within their democratic rights,” said Cheembe.

“As SACCORD we believe and trust that there are many progressive clauses and resolutions that were passed by the NDF that we believe will go a long way in contributing to the strengthening not only Zambia’s credentials, but also the consolidation of Zambia’s democracy. Things such as extending the petition date of the President from the initial 14 days to 30 days; the Public Order Act in terms of reducing the number of days that one would require to enjoy their freedom of expression, association as well as assembly is something we believe is progressive. Strengthening the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) so that they enjoy greater independence and autonomy to ultimately be in a position to conduct elections at the best possible satisfaction of the people is progressive in our view.”