THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has lost the case in which they wanted the Lusaka High Court to declare the seats of its three members of Parliament who accepted ministerial positions be declared vacant.
The three UPND MPs dragged to court were Itezhi Tezhi lawmaker Greyford Monde, Sinazongwe parliamentarian Richwell Siamunene and Sinjembela legislator Poniso Njeulu.
UPND deputy secretary general Kuchunga Simusamba had argued that the fact that the trio was in opposition, they were deemed to have crossed the floor when they accepted ministerial positions in the Government.
But the Lusaka High Court ruled that there was nothing wrong for the President to appoint opposition members of Parliament as ministers as it did not mean that they had resigned from their political parties
High Court Judge Chalwe Mchenga said the President was entitled to appoint opposition MPs to ministerial positions even without the approval of their political parties and that the court cannot declare the seat vacant.
“Having found that the provisions of Articles 46 (2) and 47 (3) of the Constitution of Zambia do entitle the President to appoint opposition members of Parliament to ministerial positions even without the approval of their political parties, I find that the acceptance of ministerial positions by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondent did not amount to crossing the floor and consequently they cannot be taken to have resigned from their political party.
“This being the case, I decline to declare their seats vacant. The petition is dismissed and the parties will bear their own costs,” Mr Justice Mchenga said.
The Judge said his understanding of Article 71 of the Constitution was that a member of Parliament would be considered to have crossed the floor when he leaves his or her political party or joined another political party.
“Can a member of Parliament who takes up ministerial positions be considered to have crossed the floor? The answer is no,” he said.
Mr Justice Mchenga said it was clear that the provisions of Article 46 and 47 of the Constitution that ministerial appointments were open to any member of Parliament and not limited to legislators from the governing party alone.
The judge said it was common knowledge that the appointment of MPs to ministerial positions without the approval of their parties has not been well received in many quarters. He said for parties that felt threatened or uncomfortable with the practice might wish to put sanctions on members who accept such appointments if it was against the party policy.