The Law Association of Zambia has stated that government’s directive that all public officers intending to participate in the 2021 General Elections must resign lacks legal basis.
Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Simon Miti on October 20, 2020 issued Cabinet Office Circular No. 12 of 2020 in which he directed all Public Officers, including those serving in Foreign Missions, Quasi-Government, Grant Aided Institutions and State Owned Enterprises intending to participate in the 2021 General Elections to resign no later than November 30, 2020 so as to protect the integrity and impartiality of the Public Service.
But LAZ, in a statement issued by honorary secretary Sokwani Chilembo, said the lawyers’ association has engaged the government through the Attorney General over the matter and has laid its concerns regarding Circular No. 12 of 2020 before him for the necessary corrective action.
“It is the hope of LAZ that the said Circular will either be revised or otherwise withdrawn as soon as possible,” Chilembo said.
He explained that although the decision of the government is noble, it is LAZ’s position that the said Cabinet Office Circular No. 12 of 2020 lacks legal basis and may actually infringe on the rights of the intended recipients.
“This is because the law requiring a public officer to resign once the officer seeks a political office is already provided under Article 186 of the Constitution of Zambia as amended by Act No. 2 of 2016. This Article does not prescribe any time frame within which a public officer or Constitutional office holder with only an intention to seek political office should resign,” Chilembo stated.
“What is clear under the Constitution is that a public officer or constitutional office holder must resign, immediately they ‘seek election to a political office’, but not before or for merely having such an intention. It is the view of LAZ that the trigger is, therefore, the act of seeking election to a political office.”