STEVEN MVULA, Parliament
SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini yesterday ruled that Vice- President Inonge Wina was in order to deny that Timor Consulting Company exists because the firm was not found after a search at the Patents and Companies Registry Agency (PACRA).
In his ruling on a point of order raised by Mazabuka Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo (UPND) on allegations regarding the engagement of the Israel-based company to rig this yearâ€™s elections, Dr Matibini also said the point of order against Mrs Wina could not hold because the evidence laid on the table of the House was from The Post newspaper article that was not authenticated.
â€œHonourable members will recall in the point of order, Mr Nkombo asked whether Her Honour the Vice-President was in order to mislead the House by denying that the government had any relationship with Timor Consulting Company,â€ Dr Matibini stated.
The Speaker said in response to Mrs Winaâ€™s challenge that evidence of the existence of Timor Consulting Company should be provided, Mr Nkombo laid on the table of the House The Post newspaper article.
Dr Matibini said another newspaper, the Daily Nation, reported that the said letters allegedly authored by special assistant for press and public relations Amos Chanda were fake.
â€œThe Zambian media is highly polarised. And some media houses publish false and incorrect information. So, be very cautious as you lay documents on the floor of this House,â€ he said.
â€œAuthentication of the documents is of paramount importance to the House because documents laid on the table become part of the verbatim of the House, open for public scrutiny and should, therefore, provide authoritative and factual information to the House and general public,â€ Dr Matibini said.
He said since the document that was presented in the House was not authenticated as required by parliamentary practice.
â€œEven assuming that the letters published by The Post newspaper were proved authentic in terms of parliamentary practice, there is nothing in the letters to confirm the allegation that the Vice-President has any knowledge about the existence or purported dealings of Timor Consulting with whomsoever,â€ Dr Matibini said.
In another ruling on Kalomo MP Request Muntangaâ€™s point of order against Mr Chikwanda on whether he was in order to have disregarded the Speakerâ€™s ruling to withdraw an alleged tribal remark, Dr Matibini said the point of order should have been made the very day and not after a period of time.
â€œA point of order must be raised at once. That matter happened on February 25 but you only raised a point of order on March 1,â€ Dr Matibini said.
This prompted all the UPND MPs to walk out of the House to confer with each other.
Upon return to the House, Monze MP Jack Mwiimbu accused Dr Matibini of bias.
â€œFormer Kasama Central MP Geoffrey Mwamba was expelled from this House based on a newspaper article and so was the former Matero MP Miles Sampa.
â€œHow come you are now applying double standards? This House is quick to punish those on the left and slow to punish those on the right,â€ Mr Mwiimbu said.
But Dr Matibini said he is impartial in executing his duties as Speaker and that posterity will judge him if he is partial.
â€œI will render an extempore [at the time] ruling. Ordinarily, I would have wanted to reflect and supply great detail but this is the last day of sitting.
To suggest that I have closed the door to those on my left is very unfair,â€ Dr Matibini said.
He cited several occasions on which he has ruled against the executive.
â€œRecently I ruled that the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services [Chishimba Kambwili] was out of order for the use of language that was un-parliamentary.
â€œIn the last four years that I have presided over this House, I have made numerous rulings against the executive and the verbatim is available for scrutiny,â€ Dr Matibini said.
He further said on many occasions, he has tolerated running commentaries from those on his left.
â€œI also have five senses. I can see. I can smell. I can hear.
And I repeat, we all know that the Zambian media is highly polarised. Granted my experience, there is no way I could have closed the door to those on the left,â€ Dr Matibini said.
STEVEN MVULA, Parliament