Outlaw Presidential ‘poaching’

A petitioner has submitted that a law should be enacted to inhibit sitting Republican President from appointing opposition members of Parliament to ministerial positions to restore sanity in the political arena.

Bright Tembo of Chunga Township proposed to the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission yesterday in Lusaka’s Matero Township that once that law was enacted, it would promote good governance in the country

“There must be a law in force in the Constitution which prohibits the sitting President from appointing opposition members of Parliament in order to promote good governance,” Mr Tembo said.

He said poaching of opposition MPs by the ruling party weakened the opposition in the country and that it should be stopped.

Mr Tembo said appointing of opposition MPs to ministerial positions had cost the country huge sums of money because appointing opposition legislators has resulted in by-elections.

“Instead of dedicating the money to other developmental projects and other issues, we are busy dealing with by-elections. Politicians do that to benefit themselves, we should not dance to the tune of politicians all the time,” he said.

Mr Tembo also proposed that there should be a law which bars MPs from joining another political party while serving as legislator on different political parties.

He said there must be law to inhibit parliamentarians from maneuvering from one political party to another.

“If someone was elected on that political party’s ticket, let that person stay on that ticket until the expiry of the term to avoid political prostitution.

“This will create stability and a conducive environment in the political arena. This shall encourage participation and tolerance among political players. Currently, checks and balances are not being offered because when this political party comes in power, they start undermining the opposition by getting members of Parliament to themselves to enrich the numbers,” he said.

After making his submission, Commission chairperson Justice Fredrick Chomba inquisitively said: “Do you want that to be the law.”

Mr Tembo responded in the affirmative saying it would bring stability in the political arena.

“I think that is very important because the status quo erodes the loyalty and trust that person has for his political party. A new law can bring sanity in our political arena, starting with the President, let he stick to his political party and MPs,” he said.

He said when MPs cross over to the ruling party, the electorate tends to loss trust and loyalty to legislators who have accepted ministerial jobs.

Mr Tembo said the electorate felt MPs who appointed to ministerial positions were there to serve their interest of making money and not serve the voters.

He also proposed that there should be law that limited the number of political party cadres escorting their leaders to court when they are summoned.

Mr Tembo said the presence of huge number of party cadres on court grounds distorted the entire justice system in the country adding that the Judiciary should be respected instead of being abused by politicians.

Another petitioner George Kateka of Chongwe submitted that the Constitutional Court should be created to address all election petitions and other electoral malpractices that arise during the campaign periods.

He said the Constitutional Court should address all electoral matters that arise both at Presidential and Parliamentary levels within short period.

Mr Kateka said election petitions in ordinary courts take long with some going on for most life of Parliament.

He said other countries like South Africa have Constitutional Court and that the President cannot be sworn in before electoral matters were addressed.