PUBLIC Protector Caroline Sokoni yesterday struggled to explain her office’s response to Mike Mulongoti’s request to investigate President Edgar Lungu’s parentage and origin. Sokoni, who was tongue-tied, laboured to explain to the media how far her office had gone in resolving the matter regarding Mulongoti’s concerns on President Lungu’s origins and nationality.
In his letter to the office of the Public Protector dated March 7, Mulongoti, the People’s Party president, sought an inquiry, determination and recommendation on President Lungu’s identity.
“There were two issues that were raised by Mr Mulongoti, one of the issues that he raised was about the parentage clause being left out of the current constitution and he also raised the nationality of the current President. With regard to the first issue, regarding the parentage clause, the office of the Public Protector indicated that we would pursue that line of investigation,” Sokoni said.
“With regard to the second issue regarding the nationality of the current President, our view was that the provisions of the constitution provided…uuum, uuum, a platform uuum, uuum anybody who was dissatisfied with the election of the current President and the constitution also provides that a petition be laid before the Constitutional Court at that time, I think within 14 days after election. Our view is that the constitution had provided, uuuum laid sufficient provision…uuuum, uuuum for that particular matter. I think that was our advice to Mr Mulongoti.”
Asked if her office had formally written to Mulongoti, Sokoni stammered further in trying to dodge the question from the media.
“We advised that, that provision uuuum, uuuum is there in the constitution. I cannot just recall the article off hand and we did advise that that article was there and any party dissatisfied with the election of the President could have petitioned the Constitutional Court at that time,” she said.
Without clarity, journalists were curtailed from asking further questions by the host, religious and guidance minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili.
“ God bless you, have a blessed day…thank you. Ba Mast namwipusha (have you asked your questions), hahahahaha,” said Rev Sumaili while laughing.
After Rev Sumaili’s intervention, Sokoni thanked her for curtailing the media from asking for clarity and further questions on the matter.
“Oh, thank you for protecting me. I could tell that they came for me, thank you for protecting the Public Protector,” said Sokoni while holding her chest.
In his letter, Mulongoti said his writing was to bring to the attention of the Public Protector, on behalf of other stakeholders, the issue of the identity of the Republican President and inquiry, determination and recommendation based on the provisions of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Act No. 2 of 2016 and the Public Protector Act of 2016 of the Laws of Zambia.
“…The Constitution provides as follows, “(1) The Public Protector may investigate an action or decision taken or omitted to be taken by a State institution in the performance of an administrative function. (2) For purposes of clause (1), an action or decision taken or omitted to be taken is an action or decision, which is—
(a) unfair, unreasonable or illegal; or
(b) not compliant with the rules of natural justice.
(3) For purposes of clauses (1) and (2), the Public Protector may—
(a) bring an action before a court;
(b) hear an appeal by a person relating to an action or decision taken or omitted to be taken in respect of that person; and
(c) make a decision on an action to be taken against a public officer or Constitutional office holder, which decision shall be implemented by an appropriate authority,” stated Mulongoti’s letter in part.
Sokoni, a former Director of Public Prosecutions, said her visit to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and National Guidance was to find ways of how the two offices could collaborate on matters of national values and social justice.