Editor's Comment

UPND MPs’ apology must be sustained

MEMBERS of Parliament and invited guests listerning to President Lungu’s speech. PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/ STATE HOUSE

APOLOGISING can be hard because it takes humility and courage but it can save relationships and open the door for healing.
It is commendable that 54 UPND members of Parliament have exhibited magnanimity by apologising for breaching the parliamentary privileges when they boycotted the official opening of the National Assembly on September 30, this year.
Mazabuka Central member of Parliament Garry Nkombo, who is also UPND Whip, rendered the apology to the President and the House on behalf the other MPs.
He assured the House that in future, members of the UPND would never breach the rules and proceedings of the House.
Yes, this is what we expect from our politicians. We expect them to be magnanimous and progressive by putting national interests first.
Members of Parliament should always bear at the back of their minds that they are in the House to represent the interests of the electorate who voted for them.
It worries us when our honourable members misplace priorities by putting party interests ahead of national interests.
As the National Assembly Speaker, Dr Patrick Matibini observed in his admonition and counsel that the decision by opposition MPs did not only disrespect the office of the President but also demeaned the dignity and decorum of the House which they swore to respect.
While it is within the right of MPs to boycott sittings, we agree with the Speaker that the official opening of Parliament is a solemn and very important occasion and, as such, members of Parliament are expected to attend and be at their best behaviour.
The official opening of Parliament is an opportunity for members of Parliament regardless of political affiliation to understand the policy direction of the country to be able to debate informatively during parliamentary sittings.
Millions of Zambians do not have the opportunity to sit in the House and present their challenges. They therefore depend on their MPs, whether from the ruling party, opposition or independent to represent them.
Our lawmakers should therefore constantly keep this in mind even as they understandably uphold their respective party loyalties.
We would like to believe that the UPND MPs are genuine in their apology and will abide by the promise not to breach the parliamentary rules in future.
We all know that their boycott was prompted by their denial to acknowledge President Lungu as head of State. It is our expectation that they will accord President Lungu the respect he deserves as the duly elected head of State.
In the same vein, we expect the UPND president Hikainde Hichilema to also revoke his directive on UPND members of Parliament to shun State functions.
It is not possible for one to be an opposition MP and not rub shoulders with Government and be expected to deliver development to the full expectations of the people who put him or her in the House.
We are glad that as Parliament was winding debate on the national budget on Wednesday night, many MPs, including those of the UPND, were pledging to work with the provincial ministers. This is the way it should be. They should work together for the good of all Zambians.
It is also our hope that the apology given by UPND is but the beginning of a new era in Zambian politics; an era of progressive politics where divergent views will be tolerated and national interest will override all other interests.
We therefore urge President Lungu and the PF as a whole to open their arms and accept the apology if they have not done so yet. Zambia has to close this wound and move towards making the country a better place than this generation found it.

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