Mwenye can’t be substantive AG before oath – Mulongoti

Newly appointed and ratified Attorney General (AG) Musa Mwenye cannot start performing the functions of his office before he takes the Oath of Allegiance by getting sworn in by President Michael Sata, People’s Party (PP) president Mike Mulongoti has said.

And the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has said it is researching how Mr Mwenye could be asked to start performing the functions of the office of the Attorney General before taking Oath of Allegiance.

Mr Mulongoti said Mr Mwenye needed a formal appointment letter which is only given at the point of being sworn in to begin functioning as the Attorney General.

He said Mr Mwenye could only act as Attorney General for administrative convenience and that he would do so with the authority drawn from his oath of allegiance he took when he was sworn in as Solicitor General.

He told the Daily Nation yesterday that the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mukondo Lungu had made a pretty tricky ruling when he stated that Mr Mwenye could start performing the functions of the Attorney General while waiting to take oath of allegiance.

Making a ruling on a point of order from Choma Central UPND Member of Parliament (MP) Cornelius Mweetwa who wanted to know the legality of the Excess Expenditure Appropriation (2011) Bill due to time lapse and whether Mr Mwenye should have signed the Bill without first being sworn in by President Sata, Mr Lungu said the newly appointed Attorney General could carry on and discharge his functions even before taking Oath of Allegiance.

But Mr Mulongoti said Mr Mwenye could only act for administrative convenience but could not substantively perform the functions of the office of the Attorney General until after a formal appointment letter and taking oath of allegiance.

Mr Mulongoti explained that all government contracts would not be ratified in the absence of the Attorney General and that was why it was critical that such constitutional offices could not be allowed to remain without substantive officer bearers for a long time.

“If the Deputy Speaker was saying that Mr Mwenye can perform his functions as a substantive Attorney General, then that is a pretty tricky situation. For I know about the Constitution, Mr Mwenye need a formal appointment letter and after taking oath of allegiance. If the Deputy Speaker was saying Mr Mwenye could act for administrative convenience, then that is correct because the new AG was initially sworn in as Solicitor General…only on that basis, he can act,” Mr Mulongoti said. And the Law Association of Zambia says it is studying the legal constitutionality of Mr Mwenye to substantively carry out his functions as Attorney General and that the Association would soon be issuing a comprehensive statement on the matter.

LAZ vice-president Linda Kasonde said LAZ was not going to issue an immediate statement until after the research on whether Mr Mwenye could substantively perform his functions before taking Oath of Allegiance.

“We are researching the matter and we are only going to issue a comprehensive statement after the research. For now, we are not going to say anything,’ Ms Kasonde said.

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