Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini has lifted the suspension of UPND Namwala member of Parliament Moono Lubezhi, saying the lawmaker was erroneously included on the list of 48 absent MPs when she had sort permission.
Dr Matibini has also corrected on Ephraim Belemu’s absence from President Edgar Lungu’s state of the nation address in March.
Delivering his ruling in Parliament today on the two points of order raised by Mbabala UPND Member of Parliament Ephraim Belemu last week, Speaker Dr Matibini said it was inadvertent and regrettable that the Namwala lawmaker was suspended from the House along with the 47 other members.
Dr Matibini told the House that he had with immediate effect amended his ruling reflecting on the suspension of the the Namwala lawmaker and that he had since directed the Clerk to ensure that the records were amended accordingly and instructed that remedial measures be taken immediately.
“Honourable members you will recall that on June 16, 2017 when the Honourable member of parliament for Milengi constituency Mwansa Mbulakulima MP was asking a question on a point of clarification from the Ministerial statement delivered by the Honourable Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Honourable R. Chitotela, the Honourable member of parliament for Mbabala constituency, Mr Ephraim Belemu rose a point of order on the ruling I delivered on Tuesday 13th June, 2017 suspending 48 UPND members of parliament from the House. In the point of order, the Honourable member, amongst other issues said that I suspended Miss Moono Lubezhi, member of Parliament for Namwala constituency when in fact she had authority from the Honourable Chief Whip to stay away from the sitting of the House on 17th Match 2017 to enable her attend Court.
“To support his point of order, the MP laid on the table of the House a copy of Ms Lubezhi’s approval of the application for leave of absence. Furthermore, Mr Belemu submitted that the reason I gave the House for his absence on 17th March 2017 was incorrect to designate leave of absence from the Honourable Chief Whip but that his absence was due to ill health. To this effect, Mr Belemu MP sort guidance on whether the House was in order to have passed a resolution that was based on defective facts and which appear to victimize members of the UPND on account of affiliation to the party and not on facts. He therefore volunteered to be suspended because he did not want to be saved on an unjustified basis,” Speaker Matibini recalled.
Dr Matibini said he had carefully reviewed the two issues and that he was ready to deliver his ruling.
“Honourable members I have since reviewed the records regarding the two issues which are subject of Mr Belemu’s point of order and I now wish to render my ruling as follows; Firstly, let me set from the offset that the point of order raised by the Honourable member for Mbabala sort to clarify my ruling rendered on 13th June, 2017. I therefore begin by addressing the issue relating to the Honourable member for Mbabala constituency himself. The records reviewed that on 16th March 2017, the Honourable Member for Mbabala constituency visited the National Assembly of Zambia clinic where upon being attended to was certified unfit for duties on account of ill health and was accordingly granted two-days off-sick. This fact was brought to the attention of the Chief Whip and he accordingly noted it and eventually, this was brought to the attention of the legal department that was processing the matter therefore he is deemed to have obtained permission to be absent from the House on 17th March, 2017 that on this basis, the Honourable member for Mbabala was correctly excluded from the members that absented themselves from the House without authority on Friday, 17th March, 2017,” said Dr Matibini.
“Let me now attend to the issue pertaining to the matter regarding Ms Moono Lubezhi Honourable member for Namwala constituency. Honourable members, I would love to confirm from the offset that the Honourable member for Namwala was expressly granted authority to be absent from the House on 16th and 17th March, 2017 by the Honorable Chief Whip to enable her attend a Court session. Therefore her inclusion on the list of the 48 UPND suspended Members of Parliament was both inadvertent and regrettable. Honorable members, you may however wish to note that while the ruling contained an accidental omission, the ruling can and should be corrected and it is in view of this fact that I here by amend my ruling of 13th June 2017 to reflect the fact that the Honourable Member for Namwala Constituency was absent with permission on 17th March 2017. I further direct the Clerk to ensure that the records are amended accordingly and remedial measures taken immediately,” said Dr Matibini.