FORMER Kasenengwa PF member of parliament Sensio Banda says bottlenecks within the CDF delivery processes should be addressed within the confines of the law.
During the official opening of the third session of the 13th National Assembly, Friday, President Hakainde Hichilema directed the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to make necessary legislative arrangements which would pave way for all members of parliament to belong to the local councils in order to enhance decentralisation.
However, commenting on the President’s directive, Banda said it’s clear from Constitutional provisions that the National Assembly oversees the performance of the local authority and is a part of the executive branch.
He wondered how the executive would sponsor a bill through the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development intended to include the MPs in the councils without infringing the Constitution.
“Allow me to state my basis for the bone of contention, and I quote, ‘Further, we direct the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to make the necessary legislative arrangement which will pave way for all members of Parliament to belong to the local councils in order to enhance decentralization’. Furthermore, speaking off the cuff, the President, HH said and I quote, ‘We are putting measures to check which Member of Parliament is not performing’. The above-quoted statements which were part of President HH’s speech raise legitimate issues as they related to the role of Member of Parliament as per constitutional provisions. The question is, who is supposed to check who? Is it the Executive checking the Legislature or the other way around?” he asked.
“The Constitution of Zambia under Article 63 Sub-Article 1 &2 and I quote; 63. (1) Parliament shall enact legislation through Bills passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President. (2) The National Assembly shall oversee the performance of executive functions by (a) ensuring equity in the distribution of national resources amongst the people of Zambia; (b) appropriating funds for expenditure by State organs, State institutions, provincial administration, local authorities, and other bodies; (c) scrutinizing public expenditure, including defence, constitutional and special expenditure; (d) approving public debt before it is contracted; and (e) approving international agreements and treaties before these are acceded to or ratified. From the above-quoted provisions, it is very clear; that the National Assembly oversees the performance of the local authority; and is a part of the executive branch. How will the executive sponsor a bill through the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development intended to include the MP in the councils as well as checking their performance, without infringing the constitution?”
Banda said bottlenecks within the CDF delivery processes should be dealt with within the confines of the law.
“It must be clearly stated that constitutionally prescribed roles of Members of Parliament take precedence. Members of Parliaments through their constitutional role approve the national budget, which includes the CDF allocation. Even though there are proposed approaches on how Members of Parliament shall participate in CDF implementation at a local level, that shouldn’t negate their constitutional roles. Already, a new phenomenon has emerged where Members of Parliament have gotten engrossed in the CDF implementation, it must be stated that the role of a Member of Parliament was not intended to implement projects but execute him or herself as per constitutional provisions,” said Banda.
“I do understand the need to deal with bottlenecks and enhance efficiency within the CDF delivery processes but that should be done within the confines of the supreme law of the land. Without which, if the proposed changes are done arbitrarily, without regard to the constitution, the National Assembly’s constitution functions will become moribund to the detriment of good governance and national development. The appropriate presidential advisors should be on hand to President HH to do the right thing as regards the identified needle in the haystack of President HH’s speech. The bottom-line is, the president must be brought to speed by his advisors that the National Assembly oversees the performance of executive functions and not the other way around”.