Heritage party president Brig Gen Godfrey Miyanda has demanded that President Michael Sata must live up to his Oath of Office by appointing a substantive Chief Justice forthwith.
Miyanda told the Watchdog that it is unconstitutional to maintain an Acting Chief Justice permanently.
‘The former Chief Justice, Mr Justice Ernest Sakala, is on record having declared publicly that he was not going to resign until he completed his tenure of office! Soon after that declaration he was sent on forced leave and immediately the President appointed an Acting Chief Justice. Later he submitted the name of Madam Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to the National Assembly for ratification as substantive Chief Justice,’ explained Gen Miyanda.
But, ‘the National Assembly declined to ratify her name, citing constitutional grounds. It is obvious that the President has no immediate intention to appoint a substantive Chief Justice that is why he has brazenly ignored the Constitution,’ said Miyanda.
Gen Miyanda said by not appointing a substantive Chief Justice the President has created and is maintaining a permanent office of Acting Chief Justice contrary to the Constitution.
‘But what is the objection to having a permanent Acting Chief Justice? One simple answer is that the Constitution has established only the office of a substantive Chief Justice which shall not be abolished while there is a substantive Chief Justice. The President’s scheme to force the Chief Justice out of office without observing the Constitution is another of several serious constitutional breaches by the President. Even without resorting to the Constitution or other laws, it is absurd to have a person acting permanently, especially after a rejection by the National Assembly! “Acting” connotes doing another person’s duties for a temporary or short period. It is a stop gap measure for temporary administrative convenience, not for circumventing the Constitution!
‘For the PF regime to regain credibility they must begin to respect and observe the Constitution as it is today. The President has committed far too many constitutional breaches; it is in his interest to put his boat back on its keel,’ Gen Miyanda, a former vice-president explained.
He said there is still a chance for the President to redeem himself by complying with the Constitution.
He said: ‘In case Government is struggling to find the answer, it is in Article 44 (4), under Functions of the President which provides, inter alia, that:
“When any appointment to an office to be made by the President is expressed by any provision of this Constitution to be subject to ratification by the National Assembly –
(a) The National Assembly shall not unreasonably refuse or delay such ratification but the question whether the National Assembly has so acted unreasonably shall not be enquired into by any court.
(b) If such ratification is refused the President may appoint another person to the office in question and shall submit the appointment for ratification”.
‘The President must therefore submit to Parliament another name forthwith, other than that of Her Ladyship Madam Justice Lombe Chibesakunda, JS. Government, do you have a problem with this clear constitutional provision or you have a different Constitution which is guiding you?’ asked Miyanda.