FORMER Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says Article 69 of the Constitution, which provides for the nomination of members of parliament, should be repealed because such lawmakers do not serve interests of the people.
Dr Sacika has further observed that Article 69 is unrealistic in that it is almost impossible to expect eight nominated members of parliament, representing special interests, to influence a Parliament of over 150 members.
According to Article 69 of the Zambian Constitution, “the President may nominate a person referred to in Article 68 (2) (b) where the President considers it necessary to enhance the representation of special interests, skills or gender in the National Assembly.”
The Constitution further states under (2) that, “A person may be nominated as a member of parliament if the person qualifies to be elected as such under Article 70.”
Commenting on this provision in an interview with News Diggers!, Dr Sacika charged that all the current nominated members of parliament were not qualified for the positions they hold as they were either PF supporters or “friends of the President” who did not represent the interests of the people.
He called on Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) specialized in governance matters to petition the Constitutional Court to declare Article 69 of the country’s Constitution unconstitutional and unrealistic.
“My view is that NGOs, such as Linda Kasonde’s Chapter One Foundation that deal with governance issues, should petition the Constitutional Court to declare that Article 69 of the Constitution is unconstitutional, and that our current nominated members of parliament do not qualify to hold their seats in Parliament because they do not represent any special interests. Article 69 of the Constitution says that the President may nominate a person to be a member of parliament where the President considers it necessary in order to enhance representation of special interests in Parliament. Special interest groups include such organizations as NGOCC, for example, and other organisations representing farmers, etc. Those are special interest groups. But Article 69 has been abused by our presidents who have used it to appoint their party supporters and friends as members of parliament in order to push their strength in Parliament,” Dr Sacika argued.
“For example, what special interests does [Raphael] Nakacinda represent? None whatsoever. And if you look at all the nominated members of parliament, all of them are known to be supporters of the Patriotic Front. All of the nominated members of parliament, with the exception of Nakacinda, are ministers. This is a complete mockery of Article 69 of our Constitution, which is quite clear. Article 69 is also unconstitutional as it undermines competitive and multi-party politics in a democracy, which our Constitution seeks to promote. For example, how can you give the President powers to appoint eight members of parliament? This is undemocratic. In multi-party politics, special interest groups should work through political parties to achieve their social and economic objectives. This will be the most effective way of assuming their objectives. It happens in other countries like the UK where the trade union movement works through the Labour Party to achieve its objectives.”
He added that Article 69 was not serving its intended purpose.
“Article 69 is also totally unrealistic. How do you expect eight people representing special interests to influence a Parliament of nearly 160 people? It’s not possible. Even if Article 69 were to be faithful in implementing and upholding its original purpose, eight people cannot realistically exercise any influence whatsoever over the rest of the members. So, the Article is not serving its purpose, it’s completely meaningless! That is why our presidents, starting from Fredrick Chiluba, have been abusing it,” said Dr Sacika.
“So, I am calling for it to be repealed because it’s serving no useful purpose. Besides, it has been abused. Nominated members of parliament are supposed to be drawn from interest groups because they are supposed to serve special interest groups. But they are not doing so; the President nominates his supporters and friends to go to Parliament. So, this Article is not being observed. That is why I say all nominated MPs do not qualify to hold their seats because they do not serve any special interest groups, and as such, their seats must be nullified, declared null and void. The Article is serving no useful purpose and the best way for interest groups to promote their social and economic welfare is through political parties, that way, they will be able to promote their objects.”