Politics

CUTS Submits That Parley Debt Oversight Should Stay In Constitution

Government officials, stake holders, journalists and Patriotic Front (PF) supporters awaiting the arrival of President Michael Sata for the first official opening of the eleventh National Assembly at Parliament grounds in Lusaka on October 14, 2011 – Picture by Joseph Mwenda.

The Consumer Unit and Trust Society (CUTS) Zambia has made a submission before the before the parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019, saying the Head of State cannot be responsible for negotiating, ratifying, acceding or withdrawing from international agreements as this would mean National Assembly will have no say or oversight over deals that would potentially bind the Zambian people to debt.

The organization stated that the proposal to delete parts of Article 63 of the Constitution of Zambia would mean parliament would stop approving debt contraction, adding that this would weaken the system of checks and balances.

 

“Section 13 of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill seeks to delete paragraphs (d) and (e) of Article 63 (2) of the Constitution of Zambia Act No. 2 of 2016 [to] remove National Assembly’s ability to approve public debt before it is contracted and approved; and international agreements and treaties before these are acceded to or ratified is removed. This proposed provision weakens the system of checks and balances and restricts transparency in the contraction of debt. At present, in addition to providing oversight, the process of submitting agreements to National Assembly allows public scrutiny through National Assembly’s consultative meetings with stakeholders. The proposed amendments would therefore mean agreements are secret and confidential and therefore not available for public scrutiny. Section 26 of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill proposes to amend Article 92 (b) by making the President responsible for negotiating, ratifying, acceding or withdrawing from international agreements. This means that National Assembly will have no say or oversight over agreements that would potentially bind the Zambian people to debt. This provision, by removing the requirement of National Assembly approval, implies that National Assembly will have no oversight over debt contraction particularly foreign debt,” CUTS stated.

It stated the proposed amendments to make the approval of public debt a function of Cabinet not only breached the principle of separation of powers but also remove any transparency and public accountability over the contraction of public loans and debt.

“The quorum for a Cabinet decision is the President plus one minister or Vice-President. This means that in effect, the proposed amendments allow the President with one other member of Cabinet to approve loans or guarantees contracted by the state or state institutions. When considered with the other proposed amendments relating to public finance management, the amendments mean that the Executive will be free to borrow and use public finance in a manner that is not transparent and will not be held accountable because of the weakened systems and public accountability institutions. The need for strong systems to monitor debt contraction and the need for parliamentary oversight in Zambia is reflected in reports from both the Government as well as international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In the 2017 National Debt Strategy, the Ministry of Finance recommended that Parliament’s oversight over debt contraction be strengthened by enhancing the legal and institutional framework,” CUTS stated.

 

 

9 Comments

  1. abilima

    This is what it should be – people and organizations/associations putting forth their submissions on the Constitutional Amendment Bill – not “I have instructed my MPs not “HH directs all UPND MPs to vote against Bill No.10, claims Bill has nothing good to benefit Zambians”. An intelligent opposition leader would have mandated his Party to submit the Party’s position on the proposals on Bill No. 10 – and then vote against amended Bill if they are not happy with the Amendments made if they were not to be within the wishes of the Party. But to jump straight to agitating for voting against the Bill when you have refused to make submissions sounds dull to me.

  2. abilima

    Correction: This is what it should be – people and organizations/associations putting forth their submissions on the Constitutional Amendment Bill – not “HH directs all UPND MPs to vote against Bill No.10, claims Bill has nothing good to benefit Zambians”. An intelligent opposition leader would have mandated his Party to submit the Party’s position on the proposals on Bill No. 10 – and then vote against amended Bill if they are not happy with the Amendments made if they were not to be within the wishes of the Party. But to jump straight to agitating for voting against the Bill when you have refused to make submissions sounds dull to me.

  3. Truth man

    Surely with all the truthfulness and integrity required from government as it performs its duties , how can somebody dream or indeed remove parts of the constitution that were made to check excessive and abuse by the executive wing of government! It would appear this so called amendment to the constitution is just a manouvre by government to manipulate the constitution to benefit either a group of people or protect someone from assumed misdeeds in order to avoid future criminal liability . This whole exercise is very suspicious and up to no good honestly speaking. Zambians must stand up enmasse and prevent the manipulation of their constitution .

  4. Andrew

    This is the way to go, you do not just stand akimbo and claim to be fighting for the masses. Come on trust the process, submit and see what follows, then at the end of the day we can proudly say “we submitted but our submissions were thrown out”. Then people will stand with you, not being A.W.O.P please, Ni bukuwe.

  5. Tulibantu

    I said it that this ruling party wants to take way peoples rights so that the constitution will prevent them to their criminal deeds, there are so many things that has happened from 2016 and theory are trying by all means to silence us Zambians, this Bill no_ 10 it carries no good for the Zambians, so wakeup and claim for our rights and freedom, something is fishy here.

  6. Tulibantu

    I said it that this ruling party wants to take way peoples rights so that the constitution will prevent them to their criminal deeds, there are so many things that has happened from 2016 and they are trying by all means to silence us Zambians, this Bill no_ 10 it carries no good for the Zambians, so wakeup and claim for our rights and freedom, something is fishy here.

  7. Idiocy Detector

    Can any sane person allow rats to be in charge of distributing grains?

  8. k

    So national assembly has lost its power to accept or approve of the money that in terms isnused

  9. k

    So national assembly has of its power to accept or approve the debt in terms is used to power industries ,small organisations .carefully plotted out quorum
    The issue has been handed to the president.
    Loans and country debt will be approved by the executive wing
    National assembly will be left for eat.antother for solution

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