A CONSORTIUM of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on President Hakainde Hichilema to ensure equitable representation of women, youths and persons with disabilities as he sets up his Cabinet.

This is according to a joint statement issued by ActionAid Zambia; Alliance for Community Action; Caritas Zambia; Centre for Trade Policy and Development; Chapter One Foundation; NGOCC; Transparency International Zambia; and Zambia Council for Social Development, Thursday.

Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde, on behalf of the other CSOs, stated that Article 259 of the Constitution required the Head of State to ensure that 50 percent gender representation was implemented in the nomination process.

“We, the undersigned civil society organisations, congratulate President Hakainde Hichilema and Vice-President Mutale Nalumango on their election into office. As they assemble the leadership team, we wish to highlight the fact pursuant to Article 259 of the Zambian Constitution –(1) where a person is empowered to make a nomination or an appointment to a public office, that person shall ensure— (a) that the person being nominated or appointed has the requisite qualification to discharge the functions of the office, as prescribed or specified in public office circulars; (b) that fifty percent of each gender is nominated or appointed from the total available positions, unless it is not practicable to do so; and (c) equitable representation of the youth and persons with disabilities, where these qualify for nomination or appointment. (2) A person empowered to make a nomination or appointment to public office shall, where possible, ensure that the nomination or appointment reflects the regional diversity of the people of Zambia,” Kasonde stated.

“Article 259 applies to all presidential and other appointments in government, including the offices of Cabinet and Provincial Ministers. It sets the constitutional standard for a person empowered to make a nomination or appointment to a public office. It requires that the person making the nomination or appointment ensures 50 percent of each gender is nominated or appointed to all available positions. It further calls for equitable representation of youth, persons with disabilities; and calls for regional diversity. We must emphasise that we consider “youth” to be persons aged 35 years and below.”

Kasonde stated that by adhering to the provisions of the constitution in the nomination of members of parliament, the President would ensure inclusivity and diversity.

“Article 69(1) empowers the President to nominate eight people to become members of parliament. Article 116(1) empowers the President to appoint members of parliament as Ministers while Article 117(1) empowers the President to appoint Provincial Ministers from among the members of parliament. These provisions, when read together with article 259, indicate that gender equity and regional diversity where it is practicable to do so and equitable representation of the youth and persons with disabilities, where they qualify for appointment or nomination,” she said.

“This ensures inclusivity, diversity, and equitable representation in positions of decision making in Zambia, which will see to it that women, youth, persons with disabilities, and persons from various tribes and regions are not left out in the governance of their country, especially when they are qualified to serve in particular positions.”

Kasonde further stated that Zambia had no shortage of women, youths and persons with disabilities who were skilled and qualified to participate in the governance of the country.

“In conclusion, representation matters. Diversity plays a key role in ensuring national unity. These are constitutional standards and dictates, which we urge the President to use as guidance in making any nomination or appointments to government. By doing so, the President would also be performing his functions in line with Article 91 (3) which provides among other things that the President shall in the exercise of the executive authority of the State, uphold the rule of law, respect the diversity of the different communities in Zambia and also promote democracy and enhance the unity of the nation,” said Kasonde.

“We believe Zambia has no shortage of women, youth, and disabled persons skilled, experienced, and qualified to participate in leading us towards the Zambia we want. We believe he has yet another chance after the elections to show the world that democracy in Zambia works and that we respect the supremacy of our Constitution.”