The Checkers Facebook page published an article quoting Ms. Edith Nawakwi, President of the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) party, claiming that the newly appointed Minister of Finance, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane was illegally occupying office. Ms. Nawakwi said Dr. Musokotwane had not yet been sworn in as Member of Parliament, hence rendering his ministerial appointment null and void. She further claimed that President Hakainde Hichilema wanted to govern the country without following the law.
The fact checking process has determined the claim by Ms. Nawakwi as false. Appointments to Cabinet are guided by the Constitution of Zambia which under Article 68 provides clear guidance on the election of Members of Parliament to the National Assembly. The Article states that a Member of Parliament shall either be elected by the people or nominated by the President. Accordingly, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane qualifies to be a Member of the National Assembly because he was elected as Member of Parliament for Liuwa constituency in the 12th August 2021 General Elections under the United Party for National Development (UPND) party. Article 116 of the Constitution gives further guidance to the effect that (1) The President shall appoint a prescribed number of Members of Parliament as Ministers and (2) A Minister shall be responsible, under the direction of the President, for the policy and strategic direction of a Ministry, a department or other State institution as assigned by the President. This article in essence indicates that the President acted within his jurisdiction in appointing Dr. Musokotwane as Minister of Finance. In accordance with Part (2) of Article 116 of the Constitution, President Hakainde Hichilema swore in Dr. Musokotwane on 27th August 2021 and tasked him to address various economic issues in the country. This part of the Constitution invalidates the claim by Ms. Nawakwi that the President did not act within the law when appointing the Minister. In addition, Constitutional lawyer Mr. John Sangwa, State Counsel, affirmed validity of the President’s action through an article in the Daily Nation newspaper. Mr. Sangwa said that President Hichilema did not breach the law by appointing Dr. Musokotwane and that the Minister was not illegally in office before taking oath as MP. He stated that there was no Constitutional provision that requires the elected Member of Parliament to be sworn in before being appointed Minister and taking oath was just a formality before assuming public office. Based on the findings and thorough analysis of the relevant provisions of the Constitution, the fact checking process has therefore concluded that the claims by Ms. Nawakwi were false.