A leading member of Zambia’s main opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) says the government is encouraging opposition legislators to defect to the ruling party by appointing them to the Cabinet-level jobs without consultations.
Dr. Brian Chituwo, the MMD vice president, says that by taking this action the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party is preventing his party from carrying out its role, which he said, is to act as a check on the government.
“We can serve our country effectively, even more so, by ensuring that we provide those vital checks and balances in a democracy like ours,” said Chituwo.
But this will be hampered, he says, because the government has offered deputy ministerial positions to 10 parliamentarians from the MMD.
“This means that these [legislators] have two allegiances; one to the party that sponsored them to parliament and the other the executive, for which they are working,” said Chituwo.
But, President Michael Sata says he is willing to work with all parliamentarians who have the country’s best interest at heart regardless of their political affiliation.
“I have, with good intentions, appointed our colleagues from the opposition into government. But, it is the same misguided and unpatriotic opposition leaders that have been threatening to make the country ungovernable,” said Sata.
The constitution allows a president to appoint legislators to serve in the administration irrespective of their party affiliation.
Some Zambians say the country would be best served if its best and brightest serve in any current government. But, Chituwo says Sata failed to consult leaders of the MMD to seek their official consent and approval before appointing its legislators to serve as deputy ministers in his government.
“This has been our objection - that President Sata has not consulted the party leadership,” continued Chituwo. “This infuriated our [leader] to actually storm the State House to try to seek an audience with our republican president, but to no avail.”
He said deceased president Levi Mwanawasa of the MMD held discussions with leaders of opposition parties before appointing their members into his administration.
Chituwo said Zambia could become a one-party state if the PF continues to woo opposition lawmakers to join the ruling party by appointing them to ministerial jobs.