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Waiting For The Appointment Of A Lean Or Just A Cabinet?




There have been anxieties among people esp politicians for the President to APPOINT his cabinet ministers while others demanding for a lean cabinet.

A lean cabinet is not just arrived but needs the approval of the National Assembly once the President dissolves some ministries (Art 92(1).

The previous government had 34 ministers inclusive of the vice president and the Minister in the office of the President.

Unfortunately, this is so because the dissolution of ministries and the appointment of ministers are guided by the constitution and legal dictates and so is the number of ministers to be appointed by the President.

We have not changed the law to make it promote the desired realisation of a lean cabinet in the country and until we change the existing laws, Presidents will be at liberty to appoint the legally prescribed number of ministers which bloats the Cabinet.

This is what the law prescribes in Article 116(1): *the president shall appoint a prescribed number of members of Parliament as Ministers*

Article 117 further directs the President to *APPOINT a provincial minister for each province from among members of Parliament*

Section 3 of the Ministers (Prescribed Number and Responsibility) Act No 26 of 2016 states that *for the purpose of Article 116(1) of the Constitution, the number of ministers to be appointed by the President shall not be more than thirty (30)*

GIVEN the above prescription, the direction of how many ministers the President is expected to appoint and regardless, the 10 provincial ministers is a non negotiable addition to any number of cabinet ministers the President will appoint.

So in essence, Zambia is supposed to have 40 ministers (not more than 30 cabinet ministers and the guaranteed 10 from provinces.

However, the President in Article 92 (1)(c) unfettered powers to establish, merge and dissolve government ministries subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

We wait to see and hear the number of Cabinet ministers from the President under the existing legal framework until the desire for a lean cabinet is approved by the National Assembly after dissolution of some ministries if that is the route the President wants to take.

In addition, the President can use the law of minimum by appointing only one minister which, under the Cabinet Handbook 2010 constitute a cabinet quorum.

The handbook on Chapter 4 (Quorum at Cabinet Meetings) stipulates that *the President and one other minister of Cabinet form a quorum of a cabinet meeting because cabinet is advisory to the presidency. Although cabinet makes its decisions by consensus, the President has the final say on any matter presented to Cabinet*

Now you must understand why the President is not in hurry to appoint ministers esp with the appointment of the Finance minister and the vice-president who are both cabinet ministers, in this case, help the President meet the quourum for any Cabinet meeting.

I submit

McDonald Chipenzi