THERE is nothing unconstitutional about deputy ministers attending Cabinet meetings as observers because senior Government officers also attend the meetings, Vice President Inonge Wina told Parliament yesterday.
She added that the constitutional provision being cited for the alleged violation did not categorize what type of ministers should attend Cabinet meetings.
She said this during the Vice President’s Question Time in Parliament yesterday.
This was after Mazabuka Central UPND member of Parliament Garry Nkombo wanted to know whether President Edgar Lungu considered the provisions of the Constitution when he decided that deputy ministers should now start attending Cabinet meetings.
Mr Nkombo argued that it was unconstitutional for deputy ministers to attend Cabinet meetings and wanted Ms Wina to explain why the Head of State decided to go the route he had taken.
In her response, Ms Wina said the Constitution stated that ministers should attend Cabinet meetings which included deputy ministers as they were also ministers.
Ms Wina however said deputy ministers were not allowed to participate in the proceedings and were mere observers.
“Deputy ministers were only sitting in as observers on Monday during the Cabinet meeting…they were sitting as technocrats who were merely observing the proceedings of our meeting,” Ms Wina said.
And Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mukondo Lungu has urged the Vice President to consider advising Cabinet Office to show consistency whenever considering which person to accord a national mourning.
This was after Kabompo West (UPND) Member of Parliament Lwiji Ambrose Lufuma raised a point of order to know whether Government through Cabinet was in order not to consider according veteran politician and former freedom fighter Samuel Mbilishi who died on Thursday a national day of mourning.
In his ruling, Mr Lungu said Government through the Vice President was not in order and urged Ms Wina to advise Cabinet Office not to be seen to be inconsistent.
“You Honour the Vice President please you need to advise Cabinet Office. It should not be seen to be inconsistent,” he said.
Mr Lungu said he remembered the late Mr Mbilishi as somebody who served in different government portfolios as well as being a freedom fighter.
Meanwhile, Ms Wina clarified in Parliament yesterday that Government had not received any official request from the former head of State Rupiah Banda to be given money to build his retirement house.
Ms Wina said Government would not react to rumours reported in some sections of the media.
Ms Wina was responding to Siavonga member of Parliament Kennedy Hamudulu who wanted know whether Government was aware that Mr Banda was demanding money for constructing his house as part of his retirement benefits.
Ms Wina said Government would not act on rumours from the media as it had not received a formal request from Mr Banda, adding that if it did it would consider the request on the basis of the Act on terminal benefits of former heads of States.
“There is an Act relating to the presidential benefits, it is from this Act that everything will be considered,” Ms Wina said.