Fri, 16 Jun 2017 12:52:54 +0000
By SIMON MUNTEMBA
A POLITICAL analyst, Alex Ng’oma, says the 48 UPND Members of Parliament deserved the suspension because they took a partisan stance by purposefully abrogating spelt-out rules and regulations of Parliament which was a recipe for anarchy.
Dr Ng’oma said the UPND lawmakers invited their suspension because it was unpatriotic for them to politicise Parliament sessions.
On Tuesday, Speaker Patrick Matibini suspended the 48 MPs for 30 days for missing President Edgar Lungu’s State of the Nation address to Parliament on 17 March this year.
The Speaker stated that the 48 will not be allowed access the Parliament Buildings and motel during the period of suspension, they will not be part of the deliberations by their respective parliamentary committees nor will they be given allowances and/or salaries.
The UPND MPs had boycotted the event on the grounds that they could not listen to someone whose election was a subject of a petition in the High Court.
But Dr Ng’oma, who is University of Zambia political science lecturer, said the MPs inflicted on themselves what happened to them because they flouted parliamentary laws.
Dr Ng’oma blamed the MPs’ plight on the party’s leadership which wanted to use them to pursue its selfish motives at the expense of the electorate who elected them.
“The behavior of the suspended MPs was very unfortunately. Parliament is an honorary place where MPs must remain honorable in their actions.
“It’s unfortunate that they began serving the interest of their party at the expense of the people who elected them.
“The nation thought that when they were merely made to apologize for boycotting the opening of Parliament by President Lungu, they had learnt a lesson, but alas, we were wrong because they repeated the same thing, meaning that they played partisan politics in the House.
“So I totally commend the Speaker for taking a bold decision of suspending them so that it sent a strong message to all parliamentarians that they should remain non-partisan in Parliament.
“The Speaker was completely in order and every well-meaning Zambian should support him and we only hope our brothers in the UPND and indeed from other political parties have learnt a lesson,” he said.
Meanwhile, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) governance advisor, Isaac Mwanza, said the decision to suspend the MPs for 30 days could be reviewed by the court.
“The question must be: why 30 days? Because Order 72 (3) of the Standing Orders of 2016 is quite instructive:
“If a member is suspended under this Standing Order, his or her suspension on the first occasion in any session shall continue for seven days, on the second occasion for fourteen days, and on the third or any subsequent occasion for thirty days,” Mr Mwanza explained.
Mr Mwanza said the court could be called to determine whether it should have been the 14 days as provided in Standing Orders of 2016 or the provisions from the 1956 Act.
He stated that the Speaker invoked the provisions of Section 28 (as amended by no. 68 of 1957) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Chapter 12 of the Laws of Zambia which does not provide timelines as the latest Standing Orders of 2016 to determine the number of days one can be suspended.
And Mr Mwanza has questioned Dr Matibini’s directive that the Inspector General of Police should investigate Hakainde Hichilema for possible prosecution for insulting the Office of the Speaker when he called him a “PF cadre”.
“Again, the learned doctor (Matibini) has found comfort in provision introduced by an amendment to the Act in 1957 in Section 25. And by another amendment thorough S.I. No. 174 of 1965, Section 27 states:
“No prosecution shall be instituted for an offence under this Act except by the Director of Public Prosecutions upon information given to him in writing by the Speaker,” he explained.
Mr Mwanza wondered why the Speaker should be immune from negative remarks if the judges themselves could be criticized and dragged to the Judicial Complaints Commission by citizens when they felt dissatisfied with them.
“The President himself gets criticised; the Chief Justice gets criticised and rare do you find them use the DPP to silence them, but why shouldn’t the Speaker be criticised?” he wondered.
Mr Mwanza, however, advised the UPND to learn to swallow their pride and accept electoral defeat.
“To you the UPND MPs; learn to swallow your pride and loss. You lose nothing by attending his address and showing in his presence that you disagree with him,” Mr Mwanza said.