PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says some realignments and creation of new ministries is subject to Parliament ratification.
But Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa says President Hichilema breached the Constitution by swearing in ministers to non-existent offices, advising that only way to cure that nullity was for the said ministers to retake oath after Parliament approval.
On Tuesday President Hichilema unveiled 24 Cabinet ministers, introducing new Ministries which include; Small and Medium Enterprises, Green Economy and Environment as well as Science and Technology. He also realigned and renamed some ministries.
Speaking during the swearing in ceremony of the last batch of appointed ministers, Wednesday, President Hichilema said it was a constitutional requirement for Parliament to ratify or approve the new Ministries and those that had been adjusted.
He further asked those who had been appointed not to execute their duties until Parliament ratification.
“I need to be emphatic that we are mindful, we are cautious that for those Ministries that have been announced, Ministers that have been announced, some of them are completely new Ministries. Those Ministers that occupy those Ministries, there is a constitutional requirement for that matter for Parliament to approve those Ministries, that are completely new, those Ministries that have been adjusted in some way or the other. It is therefore important for us to indicate that in the regard appointments that have been made are subject to approval of Parliament,” President Hichilema said.
“We shall stay within the law, we committed to the people of Zambia that we will run this country within the law of our territory. Therefore, the Ministers that have been appointed may not execute their duties, may not perform their duties until Parliament has ratified the creation of those Ministries. We believe that Parliament will assist this process because that is their duty but we will leave it to them. We do not dictate to them; we leave it to them. This process will not take long, we believe that maybe in a couple of days we will be done with it.”
President Hichilema said the realignment of Ministries and creation of new ones was meant to ensure that government delivered on its commitments.
“Our administration, our government recognizes the need to realign Ministries, recognizes the need to create new Ministries in order to fulfil our agenda to the people. I come from the school of thought that strategy comes first, business comes first, then that structure should support that strategy or business. So, we have the manifesto, we have a vision with programmes, that is the business we are offering to the people of Zambia,” he said.
“In order to implement that strategy, that business, we had to realign Ministries, we had to create new Ministries so that we can deliver on our commitments. So, I am saying this to explain only a little bit why it became necessary to realign and create new Ministries. More importantly to create jobs for our people. You will see the value of those realignments.”
But in an interview, Sangwa said President Hichilema had breached the Constitution.
“The oath is a nullity, you do not take oath and wait to assume office. You take oath so that you can assume office. So once those ministries are created, the only way to normalise that is for these people to take a fresh oath because by that time, the office would have been created. So that oath is a nullity, it is null and void. It doesn’t mean anything. So what we do is that we expect them to regularise the situation by requiring these people to take a fresh oath once the National Assembly has approved the new ministries and reconstituted ministries, that’s the only way he can cure that,” said Sangwa.
“The office must exist before the oath is taken, not after. If you look at Article 260, you don’t take oath and start waiting for the office to be created. You take oath so that you start doing your work in your position, that’s a lie now, instead of saying ‘we breached the Constitution, we’ll do it properly’. It is very simple, you cannot advise people to wait and then they will be waiting in what capacity? They are waiting as what? So how do you describe them? Minister in waiting?”
Meanwhile, during the swearing in ceremony, President Hichilema insisted that Ministers were selected on the basis of their experience and capabilities and not where they originated from.
“It is important that we all understand that we are all here to perform a duty for the people of Zambia. We must at all times put the interest of the people ahead of our own. We have come to serve the people of Zambia. So, the people and the nation come first. We must serve with high levels of integrity. We must serve with dignity, that is what we are supposed to do. Your appointments as individuals were based primarily on three factors. Number one factor and I will emphasize this, is that you are Zambian citizens. It doesn’t matter where you were born. It does not matter what your surname is, because over the years in this country we were watching a degrading situation where one’s surname mattered more than content of that individual,” he said.
“The second one is that you are competent. When I say competent, you have the requisite qualifications, I guess experience. Number three that you will be able to deliver to and for the people of Zambia. I guess those three will help this country as we serve the people of Zambia. Our Cabinet, your Cabinet, the commitment we made to the people of Zambia as of today and probably Tuesday or whenever Parliament gives us an approval after due consideration of the new Ministries, we will have fulfilled one of our campaign commitments that the UPND and its alliance Cabinet table will have citizens of Zambia from the 10 provinces.”
President Hichilema said the UPND government would not disappoint the people of Zambia.
“We must deliver on our promises to the people of Zambia. If we are not assisting people to meet their barest minimums then we wouldn’t be qualified to occupy these offices. The people of Zambia have great expectations of us and we will not disappoint them. You are part of the team that will ensure that we do not disappoint the people of Zambia,” said President Hichilema.
Those sworn in yesterday were:
Chipoka Mulenga as Minister of Commerce and Trade
Gary Nkombo as Minister of Local Government
Rueben Mtolo Phiri as Minister of Agriculture
Rodney Sikumba as Minister of Tourism and Arts
Paul Chanda Kabuswe as Minister of Mines and Minerals
Chushi Kasanda as Minister of Information and Media
Elvis Nkandu as Minister of Youth and Sport
Makozo Chikote as Minister of Livestock and Fisheries
Provincial Ministers included:
Peter Phiri as Eastern Province Minister
Henry Sikazwe as Muchinga Province Minister
Derrick Chilundika as Luapula Province Minister
Kapelwa Mbangweta as Western Province Minister
Leonard Mbao as Northern Province Minister