VICE-PRESIDENT Mutale Nalumango says the placement of the Anti-Corruption Commission and Financial Intelligence Centre under the Office of the President is not new.

And Vice-President Nalumango says only the President has authority to appoint heads of mission and anyone who usurps this will be disciplined.

Speaking during Vice-President’s question time, Friday, Vice-President Nalumango clarified that the Drug Enforcement Commission was still under the Ministry of Home Affairs and insisted that there was nothing wrong with the ACC being under the Office of the President.

“I think what I said is still true that the placement of these investigative institutions under the Office of the President did not mean that the President was going to be part of the day-to-day running of that institution. This debate moved from here to the public that the President has been given the mandate probably to start meddling in the operations of these institutions. This is nothing new, to start with I will refer to article 91 (2) [of the constitution] which clearly puts the Executive in the hands of the President. I am very capable of reading and I went to read. What I have learnt following the question is that the President is the Executive, we start from there. He gives delegated authority today under the constitution of today, even to Ministers it is delegated authority. So, everything that happens according to our constitution is vested in the President,” she said.

“But to say that there was anything new that happened in the SI Gazette number 1123, that something wrong happened, that is not true. I want to make it clear that even the 1123 Gazette does not place DEC in the President’s Office, it is under Home Affairs, so I had to come back. Gazette that indicates again the functions and portfolios of 2004, it was the same, 2012 the same, the institutions of ACC and that time 2004 there was no FIC but there was the investigative wing that transformed into FIC, it was the same under the President’s Office. 2016 it was the same, so what is it that was new? There was nothing wrong and new.”

Vice-President Nalumango reiterated that the placement was an oversight function and that the President would not interfere with the operations of the investigative wings.

“Like I said last time, it is simply an oversight function, the autonomy still remains. They are independent bodies with an oversight function by the President. Let us not mislead Zambians by doing politics with a very serious issue, where people start being sensitive that the President is ordering people ‘go there’, that is not the purpose. It is an oversight; we want to do that. The Electoral Commission is under the Vice President, are you saying the Vice President goes to sit and say ‘now can you do this’, no! So why should ministers of yesterday start misleading people? This is a very serious House, we are not supposed to spend time looking at this, but looking at hunger, poverty, crimes, corruption and all those things so that our people can live better,” she said.

And responding to a question from Shiwang’andu PF member of parliament Stephen Kampyongo who wanted to know whether it was a new culture for Permanent Secretaries to appoint heads of mission, Vice-President Nalumango said only a Head of State could appoint heads of mission.

“Thank you honourable member for Shiwang’andu for asking that question, maybe it can bring some clarity and probably closure to the same. I am glad you have said that the function of appointing heads of mission is by the President, the others will come through the Civil Service Commission. As you have said that the President said the PS had appointed his own heads of missions or whoever was appointed, I am sure the President didn’t say that was right. The President may have categorically said that was wrong, because that is not the responsibility of a permanent secretary to appoint heads of missions. Even if it is other members of foreign mission, it is scrutinized through the Civil Service Commission,” she said.

“The President I am sure didn’t just end there, the person who is alleged to have done that is disciplined. So, you can’t say that it is a new thing, if it was the new thing, he would have been praised but he was not praised that means we still remain with the status quo currently of who appoints who and this is what we are. We are law abiding citizens and we will do what is right. Anyone who will do what is wrong will be exposed and will be punished accordingly.”

Meanwhile, Vice-President Nalumango said the UPND government would not politicize the civil service.

“There is a general outcry on the issue of the presence of perceived PF cadres in high positions of government. I am using the word perceived and the only thing I start with is that it doesn’t matter which government, let us not over politicize the civil and public service. We should not over politicize these positions. Because of that perception of the over politicizing of civil service and public service by the previous regime, there is an outcry. There is another outcry which comes from both sides of this House, that the government of Hakainde Hichilema is taking too long to appoint,” said Vice-President Nalumango.

“It is for this reason that President Hakainde is taking great care in appointing people into offices, so that he does end up with the same kind of situation where people think that there is witch hunt; where people think that it is only about cadres. He is working to ensure that the right people are appointed into offices. I will not shy away from saying there are political offices and if you are appointed politically, you are removed politically. That is exactly how it should be, if I am appointed politically, even when I am still in the office, I should know that I will be removed at the right time. Those that have been appointed politically, they will be removed with dignity. I will just say let there be no destruction of anything that you live behind, because Zambia is still Zambia. Don’t touch any document [or] destroy it, this is your country.”