Sunday, February 17, 2013

UPND says MPs appointed to Cabinet are 'unruly horses'

UPND says MPs appointed to Cabinet are 'unruly horses'
By Mwala Kalaluka
Sun 17 Feb. 2013, 10:50 CAT

THE UPND says opposition parliamentarians appointed to Cabinet have become 'unruly horses' whose loyalties seem to lie with the appointing authority's party and not the ones on whose ticket they entered parliament.

This is in a matter where the UPND's deputy secretary general Kuchunga Simusamba has petitioned President Michael Sata's appointment of members of parliament from the opposition MMD to ministerial positions in the Lusaka High Court.

Simusamba has in this matter sued Attorney General Mumba Malila.
He stated in his affidavit in reply to Malila's answer to the petition that the UPND was ready to prove how the opposition MMD members of parliament serving in the current government have become unruly and disloyal horses towards their party.

"The said opposition members of parliament accepting ministerial appointments from a President of a party with different programmes and agenda harms democracy and this is not what was intended by the framers of the subject articles 46 (2) and 47 (3)," Simusamba submitted.

"The Petitioner avers that Article 71 (2) indeed provides circumstances in which a member of parliament crosses the floor; Article 71 (2) (c) particularly posits that an elected member vacates his seat if he becomes a member of a political party other than the party of which he was an authorised candidate when he was elected to the National Assembly."

He argued that the electorate voted for a candidate based on their party manifestos and consequently the members of parliament are in the House based on the message they sold to the electorate and it is for this reason that prostituting themselves by 'crossing the floor' entails abandoning the electorate who put them in Parliament.

"It is your petitioner's argument that Article 71 (2) ( c) captures the scenario whereby by virtue of accepting ministerial appointments contrary to the wishes of their political parties, a member of parliament will have unwittingly crossed the floor of the house," Simusamba submitted further.

"Your petitioner asserts that it is factual that opposition members of parliament appointed to Cabinet positions have become unruly horses and have shown that their loyalties lie with the appointing authority's party and not the party on whose ticket they entered parliament and that evidence shall be led on this score to underline the dilution of democracy by the subject appointments."

Simusamba also stated that while the language employed in Article 46 2 and 47 3 may appear plain, it was to be understood in the context of the nation's political structure, which is that Zambia is a multi-party democracy where political parties compete for majority numbers in the National Assembly.

"Depletion of these numbers due to appointment of opposition members of parliament to ministerial positions was never the intention of the framers of Articles 46 (2) and 47 (3); therefore the purposive rule of interpretation has to be engaged to surmount the current absurdity of the President wantonly, and without consulting opposition parties, appoints their members to ministerial positions," he argued in part.

"Your petitioner denies that its interpretation of Articles 46 (2) and 47 (3) of the Constitution is misguided, opinionated and without foundation; your petitioner avers that this Honourable court should find that the reference to the expression 'from amongst members of the National Assembly' as used in Articles 46 (2) and 47 (3) of the Constitution in terms of appointments to ministerial positions is restricted to those members of parliament from the ruling party or its coalition partner, as the case may be and that opposition members of parliament can only take up ministerial appointments on the acquiescence of their political parties."

The UPND denied Malila's arguments that its petition was an attempt at amending the Constitution but that it was aimed at enabling the court to interpret the artificial depletion of the numbers of the opposition parties in Parliament.
Malila said the petition should be dismissed with costs because it is legally baseless.

"Paragraphs 13 and 14 of the petitioner's petition are opinionated and without legal foundation," submitted Malila.

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