KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
VARIOUS organisations have supported the suspension of 48 (UPND) members of Parliament MPs and the referring of their party president Hakainde Hichilema to the Inspector General of Police for contempt and hope the punishment will help restore sanity in the House.
Patriotic Front (PF) deputy spokesperson Frank Bwalya said the punishment is welcome because the UPND members had chosen to embarrass President Lungu in public for no justifiable reason.
He said in an interview, UPND was trying to create confusion in the country thinking that it could succeed in undermining state institutions and Parliament.
“We welcome this suspension. However, we don’t think this will make them change. They will remain unrepentant,” he said.
Mr Bwalya said the ruling party has also welcomed the referring of Mr Hichilema to the police for contempt for disparaging the Speaker of the National Assembly.
He said Parliament is where elected representatives of the people sit to make laws and deliberate on various issues of national interest.
Mr Bwalya said an affront against the Speaker is an affront to the nation.
And Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) says the suspension of the 48 UPND MPs is a wake-up call for the affected MPs to always be disciplined and respect parliamentary etiquette.
ZCID spokesperson Edwin Sakala said parliamentarians should at all times maintain high levels of discipline, especially during deliberations in the House.
“The suspension is welcome, and we expect high levels of discipline among MPs and their behaviour [staying away from President Lungu’s address to Parliament] was total indiscipline and it is sad that most of them followed blindly and now they are facing the consequences,” Mr Sakala said.
He urged the UPND to respect the Office of the President if it is to increase its chances of ruling the country.
And in a separate interview, Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) executive director Chimfwembe Mwenge said the 30 days suspension slapped on the UPND MPs is “a bit excessive” and will deprive the electorate from the affected constituents of representation in Parliament.
“It can be reflected upon by the affected [MPs], especially that the electorate are the ones who will be negatively affected,” Mr Mwenge said.
He appealed to Dr Matibini to consider establishing an independent select committee to look into the grievances the UPND MPs may want to communicate to the legislature.