A couple of belated updates on various NCC issues, in the last week or so.
The Legislative Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) last week rejected a proposal that appointments of ambassadors and high commissioners be subjected to parliamentary ratification. Among the reasons put forward is this mind boggling reason by Mr Mwaanga :
As if that was not bad enough, the group also proposed that MPs should keep their seats in event of expulsion from their parties. A measure clearly designed to encourage defections from opposition parties. To be fair other nations have a similar system, most notably Britain. Except Britain's democracy has evolved over centuries, ours is more like a toddler learning to walk. We have previously touched on this issue - see Monkey business….
“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..."
In competition for folly, the Executive Committe was not going to be outdone. It quickly rejected the establishment of the Emoluments Commission to determine salaries and allowances for the president and other constitutional office bearers, saying that would be costly on government. Are you sensing the drift?
Well, atleast they had the sense to let parliament to ascertain the health of a sitting President. Clearly the the uncertainty surrounding LPM was too much for many to take. Or may be they knew Parliament is weak anyway.
The NCC deliberates (ZNBC News, 20/01/09): The Executive Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has resolved that parliament should be mandated to ascertain the health of a sitting President to continue holding office. The members agreed, that with one third majority, members of parliament should initiate a motion through the speaker to remove the President from office on medical grounds.
Committee members said in Lusaka on Tuesday that within 14 days after the motion has passed through parliament the speaker should request the chief justice to constitute a team of medical experts to examine the health of a President. The members said within seven days of the appointment of the medical committee the President should appear before the doctors failure to which they would constitute a ground for impeachment. During the debates commissioner, Daniel Monkombwe, argued that cabinet would not be the best group to determine whether the health of the President should be scrutinized. He said this is because cabinet members are Presidential appointees who may be victimised in the process.
Commissioners Richard Kapita and Ernest Mwansa fully endorsed the proposal for parliament to initiate the impeachment process on medical grounds. Reverend David Masupa also supported the proposal citing parliament's role of offering checks and balances to the executive. And Committee Chairperson, Michael Mabenga has appointed a sub committee to scrutinize the proposals for parliament to be mandated to initiate inquiries into the President's health.