TEDDY KUYELA, Parliament
KASAMA Central member of ParliamentÂ Geoffrey Mwamba has lost his seat following his appointment as United Party for National Development (UPND) vice-president for administration.
Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini yesterday declared the seat vacant on account that Mr Mwamba had joined the UPND, as the Constitution does not provide for dual party membership.
Last week, the UPND appointed Mr Mwamba as its vice-president for administration.
Dr Matibini ruled that Mr Mwamba crossed the floor by accepting the UPND vice-presidency and, as stipulated under Article 71(2) (c) of the Zambian Constitution, lost his seat as MP for Kasama Central.
Delivering his ruling on a point of order raised by Minister of Home Affairs Davies Mwila in Parliament last week, Dr Matibini said by virtue of accepting the position of vice-president, Mr Mwamba had become an office-bearer of the opposition UPND and consequently had become a member of the party.
Dr Matibini said it was inconceivable that the UPND leadership gave Mr Mwamba a senior position when he was a committed PF member.
He said Article 71 (2) of the Zambian Constitution is clear on the matter, adding that no dual membership is allowed in political parties as defined by the Societies Act.
â€œIt is my well-considered view that by accepting the position of vice-president [for] administration, Mr Mwamba became an office-bearer in the UPND and consequently a member of the UPND as defined by section two of the Societies Act.
â€œIn any event, it is utterly inconceivable that the entire UPND top brass can possibly appoint a committed, devoted and loyal member of the PF to such a high-ranking party position. So, the only reasonable inference I can draw in the circumstances, is that Mr Mwamba, MP, has quit PF and joined UPND as its vice-president for administration,â€ Dr Matibini said.
The Speaker said in joining the UPND by becoming its vice-president, a political party on whose ticket he was not elected to the House, Mr Mwamba crossed the floor and subsequently lost the seat as MP.
â€œAccordingly, I now declare the Kasama Central parliamentary constituency seat vacant forthwith. If, at this point, Mr Mwamba will be in the House, the Speaker should request him to leave the House and the precincts of the National Assembly.
â€œI, therefore, order Mr Mwamba to leave the House and its precincts immediately,â€ Dr Matibini said. However, Mr Mwamba was not in the House.
Dr Matibiniâ€™s ruling cheered PF MPs, who celebrated for about three minutes, while raising the clenched fist PF symbol and assuring each other that they will regain the seat.
Business only resumed after the Speaker called for order in the house.
And Dr Matibini also ruled that the republican President is empowered to appoint ministers and deputy ministers from amongst members of the National Assembly.
He said Article 46 of the Constitution, Cap 1 of the Laws of Zambia, empowers the President to â€œappoint ministers or deputy ministers as he may consider necessary to assist in the performance of their functions and to exercise or perform on behalf of ministers such as ministersâ€™ functions as the President may authorise in that behalfâ€.
Dr Matibini further said the UPND MPs serving as deputy ministers have then not crossed the floor and as such, they are in order to continue serving as lawmakers on their party ticket and their seats cannot be nullified.
Meanwhile, PF secretary general Davies Chama has welcomed the Speakerâ€™s ruling to disqualify Mr Mwamba as Kasama Central MP, CHIMWEMWE MWALE reports.
Mr Chama said in an interview yesterday that the development was expected because Mr Mwamba had technically ceased to be a PF MP after accepting a top UPND position.
He challenged Mr Mwamba to prove his popularity in the constituency under the UPND ticket.
On whether the PF will withdraw a court case, which sought to restrict Mr Mwamba from attending Parliament, Mr Chama said the process will become an academic exercise.
And UPND vice-president for politics Canisius Banda said his party will â€œconfer and pursue available remediesâ€ to enable them challenge the decision.
Dr Banda said one of the options the party is likely to pursue, is through having the ruling reviewed by the judiciary.
And earlier at a press briefing, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili castigated Mr Mwamba for saying that he single-handedly helped the PF to form Government.
TEDDY KUYELA, Parliament