FORMER Attorney General Musa Mwenye State Counsel says unbalanced appointments which don’t reflect a sensitivity to regional balancing are always problematic.
And Mwenye says he is not bitter with President Edgar Lungu.
After President Lungu made some new appointments at permanent secretary level, Mwenye took to Facebook to criticise what he termed as a lack of regional balancing as all of them were from Northern and Eastern provinces.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia has today sworn in seven Permanent Secretaries. Those sworn in are: Mr. Lennox Kalonde, Captain Davison Kabanda Mulenga, Mr. Royd Mwape Chakaba, Dr. John Phiri, Mr. Emmanuel Ngulube and Mr. Matthew Leston Ngulube. While as we congratulate the new appointees, it appears to me that all the appointments are from Northern and Eastern provinces! This seems to be the trend now. There is a reason why our founding fathers worked very hard to, as much as possible, appoint people from all regions and tribes of this country into government. National cohesion is still very important and no region(s) of this country should feel left out or sidelined from the governance of the nation. It is important that in making any appointments, keen attention must be given not only to tribal balancing but also to gender balancing. After all, we are supposed to be: One Zambia, One nation,” Mwenye posted.
And responding to a press query from Diggers, seeking his clarity on whether the Head of State was not at liberty to appoint people from regions of his choice, Mwenye said the constitution demanded that where any appointments or nominations were made, regional balancing must be done.
“The constitution demands that where any appointments or nominations are made, regional balancing must be done. Zambia has 10 provinces which are situated in the northern region, eastern region, central region, western region and southern region. There is a worrying trend of having the bulk of appointments coming from only two regions. Our founding fathers worked very hard to foster national unity. Building national cohesion is borne out of deliberate actions of those who are leading us. We know of instances of persons with names from certain regions being struck off lists of appointments simply because of their names – this should never be. But in addition to regional balancing we must also have gender balancing,” Mwenye said.
When asked why it was wrong to appoint people from two regions if they had the right credentials and their appointments were on merit, Mwenye said the country has produced several capable people from all regions.
“No one is saying that these appointees are not qualified. But are they the only qualified people? Are we saying that there are no qualified people in other regions. Some people have even argued that it is ok to do this because only people who are from these two regions can be loyal to His Excellency the President and his government! But is this true? Are you telling me there are no people from other regions in the ruling party? I know a lot myself. Are you telling me that there are no non-partisan people from other regions who would bear allegiance to government? This country has produced several capable people from all regions,” he responded.
Mwenye insisted that the appointments were problematic.
“Unbalanced appointments which don’t reflect a sensitivity to regional balancing are always problematic. They were problematic then and they will be problematic now. Those who advise the Government must give correct advice on this important issue. We must do all we can to build national cohesion. National unity is very important,” he said.
And when asked if he held any bitterness against President Lungu given that he wrote an opinion against him as acting president after Michael Sata died, Mwenye said he wasn’t bitter and that he was ready to leave government long before the President Lungu terminated his contract
“As Attorney General I correctly interpreted the provisions of the constitution which had actually been pronounced upon by the Supreme Court in a previous case. As a matter of integrity, I could only interpret the constitution in the correct way. Anything else would have been a breach of the constitution, which I was not prepared to do. The position we took was supported by all credible constitutional scholars and legal departments in the government. You may wish to know that I was not unemployed or looking for a job when I joined government. I left a very lucrative law career to serve in the Government,” he responded.
“I was LAZ president at the time I was appointed and my decision to go into Government was purely to serve the people of Zambia after President Sata, MHSRIP, convinced me to help him fight corruption. Every president has the right to work with an Attorney General he is comfortable with and H.E the President Mr. E.C Lungu exercised his powers in this regard, how can I be bitter with him? What people don’t know is that on the 5th of January 2015 I approached the then acting President Dr. Guy L. Scott and told him I wanted to leave. He refused to let me go and advised me that it would be a disservice to this country for me to resign at that time. So I was ready to leave Government long before the then newly inaugurated President terminated my contract. So no, I’m not bitter at the president at all. The advice we sometimes give publicly is actually meant to help him if he chooses to take it.”
Meanwhile, when asked that “When PF formed government, one of the key concerns in Michael Sata’s appointments was tribe, as he appointed people from the same regions which excluded southern and western. At one time, State House was seen as a Bemba family tree because most key appointments were from the north. You served as Solicitor General and Attorney General and you were never heard condemning this, what has changed now?”, Mwenye said he did not see any exclusion.
“The exclusion of any region of the country from the management of the affairs of this country or the enjoyment of the national cake must be condemned whether it was done by Late President Sata or any other president before or after him. That said, at technocrat level in the government, I didn’t see any exclusion. In fact some of the most influential Permanent secretaries at that time were from Southern province, Western and northwestern provinces,” said Mwenye.
“Some of the most influential politicians at ministerial level in President Sata’s Govt like Hon. Wynter Kabimba, Hon. Wylbur Simusa, Hon. Sylvia Masebo, Hon. Mwaliteta, Hon. Chenda, Hon Fuckson Shamenda, Hon. Nathaniel Mubukwanu, Hon. Lawrence Evans, Hon. Daniel Munkombwe and Hon. Masumba among others were either from Southern, Central, Western or North Western provinces. So I didn’t see the exclusion but if it was there, those who condemned it were right to have done so.”