President Michael Sata has poached two more opposition UPND Members of Parliament and has appointed them as deputy ministers in a move which has annoyed Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP).
FODEP executive director Macdonald Chipenzi said that the political strategy being used by President Sata to target the weakest opposition MPs was likely to result into an unstable and weak political party system in the country through expulsions which would consequently lead to unnecessary and costly by-elections.
In a statement made available to the Daily Nation yesterday, FODEP executive Director MacDonald Chipenzi said that the continued poaching and appointment of opposition members of parliament by President Sata was a serious indictment to the government’s insatiable appetite to appease individuals at the expense of national development.
“The numerous by-elections the country is experiencing most of them instigated by the President’s unrestrained appointments of opposition parliamentarians, if not curtailed and checked, will have a telling effect on the country’s economy and democratic process,” he said.
FODEP has demanded that President Sata should put to a halt the bloating of the cabinet in order to channel resources to address the looming hunger and the shortages of essential commodities such as mealie-meal in some parts of the country rather than paying deputy ministers.
“The opposition political parties should also learn a lesson from these appointments that they need to adopt for parliamentary seats principled, politically, morally upright candidates who take pleasure in upholding democratic principles and party ideals and programmes aimed at making government work effectively in service delivery,” said Mr. Chipenzi.
Mr. Chipenzi said that the move was also a threat to plural democracy and aimed at weakening the effectiveness of the legislature to provide checks and balances to the executive.
“Zambian people and interested stakeholders expected government, by now, to show commitment to honoring its campaign promise of a reduced Cabinet unlike now where the executive is being enlarged on a daily basis which is the opposite of the promise of running a small cabinet,” said Mr. Chipenzi.
He said that his organization would condemn the unceasing poaching of opposition MPs and sees the move, though within the President’s constitutional powers, as a clear demonstration of the PF government’s levels of extravagance, recklessness over the utilization of taxpayers’ money using the current legal lacunas.
And opposition UPND Secretary General Winstone Chibwe has warned that his party will not hesitate in expelling any member of the party, Members of Parliament inclusive if they decide to cross over to the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
Opposition UPND, whose two Members of Parliament for Sinjembela Poniso Njeulu and his Kalabo counterpart Miyutu Chinga have been appointed as deputy ministers in the PF government, has warned that they would expel anyone who disregards party directives.
Mr. Chibwe sounded the warning yesterday after he was informed that two of his MPs for Sinjembela and Kalabo had accepted positions in the PF government and were expected to be sworn in by President Sata.
Sinjembela MP Njeulu has been offered deputy minister in the Ministry of Information and broadcasting while Miyutu would be the third deputy minister in the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“I am ready to expel anyone who disregards party guidelines and I have to warn them that we have people interested to contest on their seats. They should not think that we don’t have people or rather UPND is short of people,” he warned.
Njeulu and Miyutu become the fourth UPND MPs to accept jobs in the PF government.