CHAIRPERSON of the Parliamentary committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs Dr Martin Malama has revealed that the country currently owes the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) K1,352,499.60 in unpaid subscription fees.

And Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube has advised that citizens should ensure they scrutinize international agreements before signing because some provisions collide with the country’s existing laws.

Speaking, Tuesday, during the debate on the adoption of the Report of the Committee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Dr Malama said it was sad to learn that the country owes the CTBTO subscription fees which had led to the country losing its right to vote in the organisation.

“The committee is particularly concerned over those agreements which have significant financial implications. Madam Speaker, the committee is saddened to learn that Zambia owes the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) a cumulative total of US$66,299 which is K1,352,499.60 over a five year period. Zambia signed the nuclear test ban treaty in 1997 and ratified in 2006, this outstanding amount has resulted in the country being suspended and her right to vote during the important CTBTO has been lost,” he revealed.

He added that the country had not ratified many of the treaties and agreements which it was party to.

“Madam Speaker, in accordance with the standing orders number 1572, the committee considered the topical issue, the ratification of international agreements in Zambia. Madam Speaker, the committee notes that being a member of 44 international Organisations, the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the African Union and SADC. Among the most notable, Zambia is party to several international treaties and agreements. The committee notes however that many of these instruments have not been ratified and some that have been ratified have not been domesticated for periods panning more than a decade in some instances. Madam Speaker, the committee is cognisant of the fact that according to the ratification of international agreements Act No.34 of 2016, the responsibility to initiate the process of ratifying an international agreement lies with the line ministry,” said Malama.

“However, it is apparent that many ministries are under the impression that this responsibility lies with the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of justice. This is attributed to the lack of understanding of the provisions of ratification of international agreements. In this regard, the committee urges the secretary to the cabinet to ensure that permanent secretaries in all line ministries acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Act and fulfil their obligations in line with the provisions. The committee notes that the situation has been compounded by the absence of a dedicated desk in the line ministries to handle these treaties.”

And Ngulube said that due to their binding nature, government takes time to ratify some agreements so that the implications are properly understood.

“Madam Speaker, I wanted to state also that it is important that when international agreements are proposed for ratification, Zambians scrutinises them very carefully. There was a tendency in the past where everything that comes through is just signed without understanding exactly why we are signing it, what the implications are. Also I know that some of these international treaties and agreements have implications of conflict, collisions between the provisions of our local legislation and the provisions of our local statutes. So sometimes, government takes a bit of time because they need to understand the implications. Once you sign some of these documents, you are bound. It’s very easy to join an organisation or to ratify or to do whatever but it’s very difficult to come out of them. And sometimes it’s difficult to even understand some of the clauses of those agreements as they might not favour our own situation. I think there is also need to know that we have our own laws,” said Ngulube.

And Gweembe UPND member of parliament Attractor Chisangano observed that Zambians are denied job opportunities in some international organisations due to the countries failure to meet up with subscriptions.

“The other issue, Madam Speaker, is that Zambians are denied jobs in the international organisations related to those treaties. As a result of not ratifying certain international agreements or not being up to date with subscriptions to the treaty Organisations, Zambian nationals are denied the opportunity to compete for jobs in the Organisations related to those treaties. The committee urges the executive to ensure that all international agreements that are beneficial to the nation are ratified without undue delay and outstanding subscriptions cleared at the nearest opportunity,” stated Chisangano.