PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
FIFTY-TWO United Party for National Development (UPND) members of Parliament (MPs) have filed an affidavit in the Constitutional Court opposing a petition by Kabangwe resident Richard Mumba, who wants the court to declare their seats vacant.
Mr Mumba wants the legislators to lose their seats for staying away from Parliament when President Lungu was delivering a State of the Nation address in the House on March 17 this year.
But in an affidavit filed last week, UPND chief whip Garry Nkombo and 51 others have argued that under the legislation and standing orders that govern the conduct of parliamentary business and processes in general, the National Assembly is capable of and does regulate its own affairs as required by the law.
Mr Nkombo says following the events of March 17, several points of order were raised on the floor of the House which were to be dealt with by the National Assembly in accordance with established processes and procedures of the House.
He says the matter the petitioner seeks to be determined by the court stands to be dealt with by Parliament.
Mr Nkombo says the court’s action the petitioner is calling for is, in effect, seeking to usurp the functions of the Speaker of the National Assembly because the House regulates its own procedures and business.
“We have at all material times performed our duties in accordance with the will of the electorate and the duty imposed upon us by the Constitution,” Mr Nkombo says.
Mr Mumba has asked the Constitutional Court to declare vacant the parliamentarians’ seats for allegedly breaching the oath by not attending Parliament when President Lungu was delivering a State of the Nation address to the House.
Mr Mumba, who has cited Mr Nkombo and 51 others, wants the court to declare that the MPs are not eligible to re-contest their seats once they are declared vacant.
He also wants the court to determine whether or not the MPs abrogated the Constitution by staying away from Parliament without reasonable cause.
Mr Mumba further wants the court to determine whether or not the MPs contravened the Constitution by acting contrary to the prescribed code of conduct, ethics and standing orders of the National Assembly of 2016 by not being present in the House when President Lungu was entering and leaving the chambers.