Proposal to end wrong rejections and acceptance of prospective public officers in parliament

Time for some procedural reforms to strengthen the appointments of some public officers.

The rejection of Martha Chizuma by parliament is an important trigger and starting point for interrogating whether the theory that governs our checks and balances in nominations, appointments and confirmations of these public officials is watertight.

People’s choice for ACB Director position

Obviously it is a great step as far as principles of governance are concerned , that there is such a rigorous process to check whether those successful in interviews are in fact the right ones for all other stakeholders . But the unfortunate part is that where one of the steps in the process can have absolute power or discretion to stop or advance the nomination of a prospective public official, that point in the chain can breed many undesirable vices including corruption etc.

Therefore, a fundamental question we need to look at is:

Whether any of these two i.e. the interviewers and the confirmers ought to have the final say (alone), in the final outcome .

Of course where there is no confirmer , the interviewers have absolute power and that is undesirable:

Again , where the confirmers decision is the most influential in deciding the appointment, it makes the interview before almost useless.

Perhaps there should be a weighting system whereby the results from the parliament voting ought to be considered together with those of the outcomes of the interviewing process to arrive at a score that captures the value of both steps.

Then the evaluation criterial should be set and guided by pre-determined thresholds eg:

1. Where the candidate gets an aggregate score below 50% , she or he has failed irrefutably,
2. Where the candidate gets an aggregate score of above 50% but below 70% she or he has passed and may rebuttably be confirmed,
3. Where the candidate gets above 70% she or he has passed irrefutably and must be appointed, unless new evidence shows that she or he may not be fit to hold office owing to any other nonconformity with any other applicable law

This way we both uphold the pluralism and participative nature of the process -a key feature of good governance, and, we also ensure that such a process does not overly marginalize or promote anyone.

These composite scoring processes can be applied in other areas too where multiple players are required by law to help facilitate appointments of public officers.

It may also prevent gaming in the process especially if the initial scores are not revealed until the interview process is finalized.

A further implication may be that then instead of sending one name to parliament, in future we would need to send the top three names who passed the first interview . These top three will get parliamentary consideration and their scores from the parliamentary stage will be aggregated with those at the initial interviews and a winner will be determined therefrom by simple comparisons of final weighted scores.

The weight can be equal or can vary depending on our subjective or objective understanding of which stage we consider the most critical.

It has not escaped my notice however that this proposal may necessarily imply changes in procedures elsewhere in our law … they would have to be undertaken.

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