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July 27, 2012

Zambian Opposition Decries Presidential Appointments

by James Butty

Thursday [July 26] was the deadline for the opposition Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) of Zambia to expel members who had accepted deputy cabinet level positions with the government of President Michael Sata.  

Two MMD members have resigned, but were immediately replaced by President Sata by two more MMD supporters.

MMD leader Nevers Mumba accused Sata of diminishing democracy and the opposition by appointing MMD members.  Sata said he wants to build a government of inclusion, and accused Mumba of deceit having once dissolved his own party to serve as Vice President under late President Levy Mwanawasa. 

Mumba said Sata is appointing MMD members of parliament in order to destroy the opposition.
                   
“We believe that Mr. Sata and his government have continued to take members of parliament from our party without any regard or dialogue with the Movement for Multiparty Democracy concerning the movement of our members.  It is also true that the moment our members become deputy ministers they switch their voting in the House from voting with the opposition to voting with government, and that also injures the very emerging democracy of our country,” he said.

Mumba said the MMD is not directly opposed to Sata’s appointment of members to his government.  But, he said appointment of MMD members should have been done through consultations with the party.
Butty interview with Mumba

He said the appointment of MMD parliamentarians as deputy ministers is intended to influence them to vote with Sata on the Constitutional Bill, which will soon be put before the House.

“We are aware that the Patriotic Front is totally opposed to the 50 percent plus one vote provision in the constitution for voting in a Republican president, which has been put in the draft constitution,” Mumba said.

The draft constitution also calls for the Republican Vice President to be elected on the same ticket as the president.

But, some have recommended that the Vice President should be elected separately from the President to ensure his, or her, independence.

Mumba said Sata’s party is against some of the proposed amendments.

“And so, the PF would like those to be thrown out of the constitution, but they don’t have the numbers in the House, and the only way for their agenda to be put forward is to find the political party from which they can draw members, and MMD was the perfect choice because, for six months or so, they (MMD members) look totally destabilized with no leadership. So, when they were offered jobs, they went for them just to survive,” Mumba said.

He said if democracy is to be sustained in Africa, parties that lose elections accept defeat and begin to provide checks and balances as an opposition instead of switching parties soon after an election for government jobs.