GOVERNANCE activist Isaac Mwanza has petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging, among other issues, the constitutionality of swearing in nominated members of parliament before they could take oath in Parliament.
According to the originating summons filed in the ConCourt yesterday, Mwanza questioned whether, in terms of Article 81 of the Constitution, a person can legally be appointed to an office of minister and perform ministerial functions after the dissolution of Parliament and before its commencement.
He is also seeking an interpretation on whether a person can legally be appointed to head a ministry established and or merged and also perform the functions of that office before approval by the National Assembly.
Mwanza has further sought interpretation as to whether in terms of Article 69, as read together with Article 81, of the Constitution of Zambia, a person who has not been sworn in as a nominated MP can be sworn in as a Minister and perform ministerial functions and whether, in view of article 173(3) of the Constitution, the President or any other appointing authority can terminate the employment of public officers without just cause and due process.
He also wants to know whether the President can institute, create or abolish a public office without the recommendation of the relevant service commission and whether a Presidential abolishment of an office in the public service with a substantive holder is constitutional, legal and valid.
And according to the affidavit in support of originating summons, Mwanza told the court that on May 21, 2021, the clerk of the National Assembly announced the coming to an end of the 12th National Assembly and that parliament was to stand dissolved on May 14, 2021.
Mwanza stated that following a general election held on August 12, 2021, President Hakainde Hichilema and Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane were declared to have been duly elected as President of the Republic of Zambia and member of parliament for Liuwa constituency, respectively.
He stated that on or around August 27, the President appointed and administered a ministerial oath on Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane, MP as Minister of Finance and that between August 28 and September 7, the President removed from public office substantive office holders, among others, Inspector General of police, provincial police commissioners, defence force service chiefs and swore in new public officers.
Mwanza further noted that on August 31, the Ministry of Finance announced a bilateral engagement between newly [appointed Finance Minister] Dr Musokotwane with the International Monetary Fund coordinator Preya Sharma, at which meeting various aspects of strengthening the partnership between Zambia and the fund was discussed but the minister was only sworn in as member of parliament on September 2.
He further stated that on September 7, the President appointed and swore in 17 cabinet ministers and provincial ministers (including persons nominated to Parliament) and terminated appointments of two public officers, namely, Secretary to Treasury and Smart Zambia coordinator but at the time of swearing-in, none of the nominated persons had taken a Parliamentary oath.
Mwanza is also seeking interpretation of Articles 174(1) and 174(2) of the Constitution.