Thursday, January 15, 2009
Written by Katwishi Bwalya
Thursday, January 15, 2009 3:29:10 AM
THE Legislative Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has rejected a proposal that appointments of ambassadors and high commissioners be subjected to parliamentary ratification.
During the ongoing NCC committee sittings, commissioners noted the need to include the ratification of appointments of high commissioners and ambassadors in the draft constitution.
“There is need to ratify the appointments of ambassadors and high commissioners unlike what we are seeing. When a president wins elections, he is surrounded by a lot of people who are given jobs in the foreign mission. There is need to scrutinise these people because most of them are not fit for these positions,” commissioner Kenworth Gumboh observed.
And another commissioner, Crispin Sibeta, observed that there was need to ratify diplomatic appointments to ensure that only qualified people were appointed because their job was more than just ensuring good neighbourliness.
“We should also subject these people to ratification so that only credible people are appointed in foreign missions unlike the current situation where we can’t question the president on some people who are appointed in foreign missions,” said Sibeta.
But commissioner Vernon Mwaanga , who is also parliamentary Chief Whip, opposed the idea saying the system could not work in Zambia.
“Yes, that is the system that America uses when it appoints diplomats in foreign mission, the Senate will ratify the appointments but you should understand that here in Zambia, we belong to the Commonwealth which does not follow that system,” said Mwaanga.
And chairperson of the committee Mutale Nalumango said it was not necessary to put the clause in the draft constitution because diplomats reported to permanent secretaries whose appointments were not ratified by Parliament.