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Speaker suspends 48 UPND MPs

MATIBINI

CATHERINE MUMBA, Parliament
THE 48 United Party for National Development (UPND) members of Parliament (MPs) who boycotted President Lungu’s state of the nation address on March 17 this year, yesterday walked out of the House in shame after Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini suspended them from service for 30 days.

And Dr Matibini has referred UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to the Inspector General of Police for investigation and possible prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for continuing to issue disparaging remarks against him.
The March 7 boycott was the second time the UPND MPs were shunning President Lungu’s address to the House after doing the same in September 2016 after which they apologised.
The crestfallen opposition law-makers, who were all clad in black, took what Dr Matibini called the “walk of shame” and exited through the main entrance, which is only used by the Speaker, on his order.
Dr Matibini said until the 30 days of their suspension elapse the MPs will not be allowed to enter the precincts of the National Assembly, including the Motel and not participate in any business or activity of the House or committee they are assigned to.
They will also not be paid the salary for the one month or any allowances they are entitled to.
The Speaker cited the powers vested in him under section 28(2) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges Act).
Dr Matibini said when he presented his ruling on the matter that the UPND MPs’ boycott of President Lungu’s address as a way of protest was morally unjustified and unbefitting the conduct of an MP.
“The President is the head of State and Government, and you took oaths of allegiance. By so doing, you are expected to be respectful to him and always be mindful that this is a House of honour, decorum and dignity,” he said.
Dr Matibini challenged the UPND MPs to resign on moral grounds if they are not ready to acknowledge that Zambia already has a duly elected President, Mr Lungu.
He said it is strange and illogical that while the erring MPs had been boycotting President Lungu’s addresses in the House because they are contesting his election, they have “comfortably and complacently” been adjusting to the presence of Vice-President Inonge Wina who was elected into office by virtue of the vote given to the President.
“And further, they freely participate in the proceedings of the House in which the Vice-President heads the Government and responds to their questions and all manner of holding the executive branch of the Government to account, especially Friday’s Vice-President’s question time,” Dr Matibini wondered.
He also wondered how possible it was for MPs to assume office without a legally and duly elected President in place since they are supposed to make an oath to him.
Dr Matibini warned that he will no longer tolerate any misconduct from any member.
And Dr Matibini has referred UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to the Inspector General of Police for investigation and possible prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for continuing to issue disparaging remarks against him.
He said he on June 19, 2014 he warned Mr Hichilema and other opposition political party leaders that their comments relating to the business of the House should be measured and made within the strict confines of the law and parliamentary practice and procedures, but that he (Mr Hichilema) continued issuing disparaging remarks, leading to the matter being referred to the IG in accordance with the law.
The initial number of UPND MPs was 54, but the others, among them leader of the opposition Jack Mwiimbu, Keith Mukata who was the only one in attendance, Sililo Mutaba, Elliot Kamondo, Ephraim Belemu, Victor Lumayi and Mukumbuta Mulowa are not affected because they had obtained leave of absence from the Chief Whip.
Others are Ambrose Lufuma, Stanley Kakubo and Fred Chaatila who were then outside the country on a foreign tour of the Committee on Estimates.

 

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