CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
CLERK of the National Assembly Doris Mwiinga says Chilanga member of Parliament Keith Mukata, who is facing a murder charge in court, will continue to hold his parliamentary seat while standing trial for the non-bailable offense.
On May 6, police in Lusaka arrested Mr Mukata, 45, and his wife Charmaine for allegedly shooting to death a security guard, Namakambwa Kalilakwenda.
Mr Mukata, of the United Party for National Development, and his wife, were later jointly charged with the murder, a non-bailable offense.
Ms Mwiinga said despite facing a non-bailable offense, Mr Mukata will continue to maintain his parliamentary seat.
She, however, said the lawmaker’s parliamentary seat will only fall vacant in an event where he is tried and sentenced to prison “for whatever term”.
Ms Mwiinga said this in response to a press query on the status of Mr Mukata’s parliamentary seat.
“The grounds upon which a seat of an elected member of Parliament falls vacant are prescribed in Article 72  of the Constitution.
“Article 72  [b], states: “The office of Member of Parliament becomes vacant if the member becomes disqualified for election in accordance with Article 70 which deals with two issues; namely qualifications and disqualifications of members of Parliament,” she said.
“Accordingly, Article 70  prescribes qualifications for eligibility to be elected as a Member of Parliament, while Article 70  prescribes disqualifications from being elected as a Member of Parliament.
“Article 70  [f] states: “A person is disqualified from being elected as a Member of Parliament if that person is serving a sentence of imprisonment for an offence under a written law,” Ms Mwiinga said.
She said in light of Article 70  [f], “Mr Mukata remains a Member of Parliament for Chilanga constituency, regardless that the offence of murder which he has been charged with is non bailable”.