Prominent Zambian lawyer Dickson Jere who is also a Journalist says the media has a tendency of referring to vice president as Acting President when the head of state is away, which shouldn’t be so.
Jere says the President remains President and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces wherever he is.
He adds that the President can even fire or make appointments while he is outside the country, meaning he remains in charge.
Meanwhile, this is the same with Zimbabwe, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa is away, his deputy Constantino Chiwenga is referred to as Acting President.
The media keeps referring to her as “acting President” of Zambia – I mean the Vice President Mutale Nalumango. That is a misnomer. She is not acting President.
You see, President Hakainde Hichilema is still President and Commander In-Chief of the Defence Forces wherever he is.
He can fire Ministers or make appointments while in the US. He does not cease to be President because he is out of the country. There is no vacancy in the presidency for someone to act.
The only time we had acting Presidents in Zambia – properly called – was in 2008 and 2015 when Rupiah Banda acted after President Levy Mwanawasa died and Guy Scott when President Michael Sata died, respectively. We had a vacancy.
In fact, Article 109 of our Constitution talks about delegation of “some” executive functions to the Vice President when the President is out of the country.
Not acting President! So, the President may ask the veep, for example, to confer honours on his behalf.
That does not make her “Acting President” but merely performing some delegated executive functions.
Simply put – there is no acting President. Nalumango remains Vice President and she should be addressed as such! You cannot have two people in one office at the same time. Read Article 109 of the Constitution!
For easy of reference, here is Article 109(1) of the Constitution of Zambia. Bear in mind that this Article was introduced only in 2016 during the amendment.
“109(1) if the President leaves Zambia or is absent from office, the Vice-president shall perform the executive functions specified, in writing, by the President until the President returns to office or revokes the authority.”
So the President decides what the Vice-president can do or cannot do in his absence.