SEPARATION OF POWERS

Scrap Bill giving MPs power to boss officials

In Summary

• The Parliamentary Powers Bill will enable MPs to order public officers to carry out their recommendations.

• Public officers risk going to jail or paying heavy fines if they do not comply with the instructions of MPs.

MPs and senators in Parliament.
MPs and senators in Parliament.
Image: FILE

Members of the National Assembly seem to feel entitled to do whatever they want. The most egregious example is their determination to set their own salaries without the advice of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

MPs are 'a law unto themselves' and now that may literally come true.

The Parliamentary Powers and Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2020 will compel public officers to act on parliamentary recommendations within a stipulated period (see P8).

 

This is a dangerous overreach by MPs. There is supposed to be a separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary. But this Bill will make the executive subservient to the legislature. Public officers, including ministers and PSs, will be duty-bound to carry out MPs' instructions. The balance of powers inside the state will be lost.

ODM nominated Senator Agnes Zani has presented the Bill in good faith as she is understandably frustrated with the executive ignoring the recommendations of parliamentary committees and reports.

But her Bill is not the solution. It could actually precipitate a constitutional crisis and a war between the executive and Parliament. This bill should be scrapped.

Quote of the day: "Ambition never comes to an end."

Kenneth Kaunda
The Zambian president was born on April 28, 1924