By MacDonald Chipenzi
WHEN IS THE NEW PRESIDENT APPOINT HIS CABINET IS THE QUESTION MANY HAVE ASKED ME.
The appointment of Cabinet is guided by Article 116 which demands that these cabinet ministers are drawn from WITHIN parliament and among the members of Parliament.
ARTICLE 116 (1) of the Constitution of Zambia guides that *the President shall appoint a prescribed number of Members of Parliament as [Cabinet] Ministers*
This means that those to be appointed as Ministers must be sworn members of Parliament I.e those who would have taken an oath.
But how does one become a bonafide member of Parliament? Is it by mere election I.e winning an election or has to be sworn in?
Article 81 (1) provides guidance on the above question and it states *the term of Parliament shall be five years commencing from the date that the Members of Parliament are sworn into office after a General Election and ending on the date that Parliament is dissolved.*
This means that without being sworn in, one is not a bobafide member of Parliament perhaps s/he is just MP-elect without any authority to discharge his/her duties as an elected or nominated MP.
So what is the first thing Parliament is and members of Parliament are supposed to do once a General Election is over and new crop of parliamentarians elected?
Article 82 (5)(a) directs that *when the National Assembly first sits after a General Election, firstly, subarticle 82(1) stresses that *the Members of Parliament shall elect, by secret ballot, a Speaker of the National Assembly from a list of names of persons, who are qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament, but are not Members of Parliament, submitted to the National Assembly by— (a) the President; and (b) political parties holding seats in the National Assembly.*
Secondly, subarticle 4 of the same Article further guides that *the Members of Parliament shall elect, by secret ballot, the First Deputy Speaker from a list of three names, selected by the political parties represented in the National Assembly, from among persons who are qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament but are not Members of Parliament*
And thirdly, subarticle 5 further guides that *the Members of Parliament shall elect, by secret ballot, the Second Deputy Speaker from among their number* all this happens at the first sitting.
Note that the *two Deputy Speakers of the National Assembly shall not be members of the same political party and of the same gender.*
After the election of the Speaker is done and MPs sworn in, then Article 116 is summoned which requires that the President appoints any member of Parliament as Ministers. This is the time the Cabinet is supposed to be unveiled.
In addition, Article 75.(1) is also triggered i.e. *The [elected] Speaker shall, within thirty days after a General Election, by notice in the Gazette, appoint a date for the first sitting of the National Assembly.*
Therefore, as long as MPs have not been sworn in, it may be tricky for the new President to appoint his Cabinet from unsworn in MPs but he can nominate the 8 to be sworn in together with the elected ones when PARLIAMENT sits.
I hope i have addressed your numerous concerns and will allow the New President do his due diligence on the would be cabinet ministers. It would have been quicker if he was appointing them from outside parliament.
However the puzzle is who shall be our next Speaker? Will the new government retain Dr Matibini or replace him with someone else and who is that somone?
What about the two deputy Speakers, who are they? Will Catherine Namugala be reconsidered or a new first Speaker will be born? At least for the second spwakee since s/he must be from among the members of Parliament. We can continue guessing and floating names.