Abrogating the law

What should have been a good start was eventually spoiled by a needless attack on the public service.
The admission by the Minister of Justice that the government abrogated the law with regard to the appointment of the Energy Regulation Board, ERB, was a good beginning which we thought would mark a change of tack by the government in admitting wrongs and pledging to rectify them.
Obviously that was too much to expect because the minister begrudged Honourable Jack Mwiimbu who raised the issue as a point of order in parliament by suggesting that the information was provided by a disgruntled member within the ERB
Instead of admitting that a mistake was made the minister apportioned blame on public officers who obviously cannot defend themselves. The minister must admit first of all that to an extent the government is dysfunctional because such matters as board appointments are supposed to be subject to policy review beyond the ministry itself to ensure that it is in accord with the law. If anything every government has a policy division within cabinet office mandated to scrutinise and ensure adherence to policy after all it is the cabinet which should give final approval to boards.
If indeed civil servants within the ministry are the ones who appointed the board then there must be something very wrong with this government because it points to bad management if not the total lack of it..
There are many fundamental issues and government decisions that have abrogated the law which issues have not been satisfactorily rectified while some are still in abeyance.
For example the dismissal of the Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Commission Captain Kayukwa was totally against the law. It is inconceivable to imagine that the Attorney general could have offered wrong advice to the President to dismiss an officer whose position and tenure were secured by law.
If indeed the attorney general could have allowed the President to make such a mistake then serious questions must arise.
Similarly we have the present situation where the acting Chief Justice was appointed by the President to serve as substantive Chief Justice pending ratification by the national assembly.
This appointment was stopped by the appropriate National Assembly Committee because the acting chief justice did not qualify on account of age and by the sheer fact that as a retired judge of the Supreme Court she could not serve in a position higher than that she had retired.
Again the Law Association of Zambia has said as much, the constitution says as much, and a recent Supreme Court judgement says as much,
The question therefore is did the President make these decisions without consulting the Attorney-General and indeed the ministry of justice? The answer will determine if indeed the ERB Board appointments were simply aberrant or a departure from the norm.
Honourable Kabimba must be aware and should know that the underlying disquiet in the citizenry over policy misdirection is impression created that government is determined to achieve whatever goal regardless of the law, procedures or indeed precedence.
There exists a body of institutional memory which should guide the new government through the intricate processes of government. Sadly the cavalier approach exhibited by the honourable minister will obviously preclude the most ardent of civil servants from offering advice to a political leadership that is not prepared to take heed.
We are now also very concerned by the status of the freedom of information bill as it would appear that Wynter is more concerned with the leakage of information his desire to plug the source than with the problem that has been exposed.
The FOI is a piece of legislation that would allow us as media to access such information. What chance does it now stand given the fear of exposure that the minister has displayed.

Categorized | Editorial

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