CHAPTER One Foundation has asked Local Government Minister Dr Charles Banda to reverse his decision to suspend the operations of the Lusaka and Kitwe City Councils because his action is in contravention of Article 152 (2) of the Constitution.
In a statement, Tuesday, the Foundation stated that Dr Banda’s action was unconstitutional and illegal.
The Foundation insisted that there was need for government to review the provisions of the Local Government Act as well as other relevant pieces of legislation containing provisions that directly depart from the requirements of the Constitution.
“Chapter One Foundation strongly urges the Minister of Local Government to revise his decision to suspend the functions of the two Councils in order to ensure his actions do not continue to run contrary to the requirements of the Constitution. We call on the State to review the provisions in the Local Government Act as well as other legislation containing provisions that directly depart from the requirements of the Constitution to ensure that all leaders and citizens alike, continue to uphold our constitutional values and responsibilities at all levels of society, for posterity, protecting the state from any potential forms of anarchy,” the statement, which was signed by the foundations executive director Linda Kasonde, read.
The Foundation argued that Article 52 of the Constitution protected local authorities from central and provincial administrations and was actually in direct conflict with sections 56 and 57 of the Local Government Act.
“Chapter One Foundation understands that the Minister of Local Government purportedly derived his powers to suspend the Lusaka and Kitwe Councils from sections 56 and 57 of the Local Government Act 2 of 2019, which state as follows: 56. The Minister may, by reason of the refusal, failure or inability of a council to adequately perform all or any of its functions, by statutory order — (a) appoint a public officer to be the Local Government Administrator for that council; and (b) suspend all councillors of the council from performing all of their functions as councillors and empower the Local Government Administrator to discharge all the functions of the Council. 57. (1) An order made by the Minister under section 56 shall, unless revoked, expire after 90 days of the date of making the order, except that the Minister may, in the interest of local administration, extend the order for further periods of ninety days at a time,” stated the Foundation.
“Sections 56 and 57 of the Local Government Act are in direct conflict with provisions contained in the Constitution, specifically Article 152 (2) and, thus, the Minister’s decision is unconstitutional and should be reversed immediately. Article 152 (2) of the Constitution states as follows: ‘The national government and the provincial administration shall not interfere with or compromise a local authority’s ability or right to perform its functions.’ We believe that Article 152 (2) was created to protect the rights and functions of local authorities from any interference from central and provincial administrations as a means to ensure functional efficiency, transparency and effectivity at the local-level. Given that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, its provisions supersede any other legislation that is in conflict with its values and principles.”
On Monday, Dr Banda suspended the Lusaka and Kitwe City Councils for three months with immediate effect to pave way for correcting illegalities in the allocation of land in the respective municipalities.
The suspension of Council means that the Mayor, his deputy and all the councillors in the two municipalities were suspended for the stated period in which an administrator will then be appointed by Dr Banda.