First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala says the United Party for National Development
(UPND) has so far followed the right procedure in seeking to impeach President Edgar Lungu.
However, Namugala said the Speaker is not obliged to table the impeachment motion within three days or indeed any specified period of time.
Meanwhile Namugala has acknowledged that the impeachment motion has caused tension in the House.
PF cadres besieged Parliament grounds yesterday protesting against the move by UPND to impeach President Lungu, forcing Leader of the Opposition Jack Mwiimbu to raise on a point of order.
“I rise on a very serious point of order arising from the constitution of Zambia. The standing orders and the privileges act pertaining to the members of parliament. Madam speaker you may recall that on Thursday last week Honourable Garry Nkombo raised a motion under standing order number 37 and the motion was duly seconded by Honourable Kambwili a member of the PF. Madam speaker, we are all aware that when a member of this House decides to raise a motion under the standing orders I have just referred to, he is required to give three days’ notice. And that three days’ notice was complied with. Madam Speaker the notice of motion was anchored on article 108 of the Constitution of Zambia, relating to the impeachment of the President. Madam Speaker I do recall that I swore before you to defend the Constitution of Zambia. And my collegue Honourable Garry Nkombo seconded by Honourable Kambwili relied on the provisions of the Constitution of Zambia which we passed here on the floor of this House in 2015 and assented to in 2016,” he said.
Mwimbu wondered when the motion would be tabled in the House.
“Madam Speaker, to date, we have not been told by your office when this motion is going to be debated on the floor of this house as per the constitution and the standing orders of Parliament. Madam Speaker as if that is not enough, we are aware that members of the executive have been issuing statements in the media to say that this motion will not be accepted by your office. They have debated the motion in the various public media, TV station, the motion which is before you, before you even respond to us. As if that is not enough madam Speaker, today, the members of Parliament, in particular my brother here Honorable Garry Nkombo is being threatened, his life is in danger, by the thugs who are outside there. Madam Speaker, we are in this House to exercise our rights as per constitution. There is nothing irregular we have done through this motion. That’s what the constitution, any civilized society demands that you follow what the constitution says. And that’s what we have done.”
He asked Namugala to state whether or not the UPND was out of order by raising the impeachment motion.
“Madam Speaker, we would like you to tell us whether we are out of order or not by raising a procedural motion as per the Constitution that provides the guidance of this House on impeachment and the standing order pertaining to this issue. What wrong have we done? What wrong has he (Nkombo) done for him to be threatened? In his exercise of the rights of members of parliament, pursuant to the law we passed, what has he done? Right now the atmosphere here in the House is not conducive. Because of what is happening outside. If it was UPND madam speaker, there would have been blood shed outside there. Madam Speaker I have concluded. I would like your guidance on this matter whether we are wrong ourselves to have raised this matter and whether this August House should not present and table the motion on the floor of the House,” he said.
In her ruling, Namugala said the UPND followed the right procedure in seeking to impeach President Lungu, but that the standing orders of Parliament did not compel the Speaker to table the motion within three days, and therefore, there was nothing illegal about the fact that the motion was not tabled yesterday as some members expected.
“The Point of order is raising three very important issues. One, whether or not indeed the motion to impeach the President is provided for in the constitution. That’s the first issue. Two, whether or not the process so far has complied with our own rules, the standing orders. The third point, is the issue of threats. Honorable member for Monze central has raised an issue of threats, that there are people out there who are threatening the honorable member for Mazabuka central. In my response to that point of order, I wish to respond as follows; first, if indeed there are any people out there and if they are within the precincts of parliament and threatening anyone of the honorable members here, they must be removed immediately. Honorable members of this House must not be threatened by anyone within the precincts of this parliament.
“The second point, that I wish to respond to is whether or not an impeachment motion is provided for. And yes indeed, under article 108 of our own constitution, it is provided as follows; a member of parliament supported by at least one third of the members of parliament may move a motion for impeachment of the President alleging that the President has committed the following; (a) violation of the provision of this constitution or other law, (b) a crime under international law of gross misconduct. I have only read article 108 sub article one. And I have only read (a) (b) and (c). In terms of whether or not the process or the motion that is being proposed has complied with the constitutional provisions, it is within these provisions. So it is in compliance to the provisions of our own constitution. In as far as that id concerned, as a provision that has been complied with.”
She said the impeachment motion is provided for in the constitution.
“However, this constitution does not give a time frame within which an impeachment motion must be tabled on the floor of this House. Standing order number 37, again I am going to quote; standing order number 37 states, a member may introduce a private members motion at any time. 37 (2) states, a member who wishes to introduce the motion under paragraph one shall deliver to the clerk’s office a fairly type written notice signed by the member and a seconder of the motion. The motion must also clearly indicate in the notice the date proposed for introducing the motion in the House. The day proposed for introducing a motion shall not be less than three days ahead. And where notice is given on Friday, not less than four days ahead provided that the Speaker may, by leave of the House exempt a motion from this provision. A private members motion shall be governed by the rules of admissibility. Now honorable members, the point of order is to the effect that the honorable member for Mazabuka central has complied with all the provisions. yes, it is true that the constitutional provisions indeed have been complied with, but the constitution does not give a time frame. Number two, the standing orders as provided does not compel the Speaker to table the motion within three days.”
And Namugala acknowledged that the impeachment motion has caused tension in the House.
“Therefore, in response to this point of order, the response of the chair is that there is nothing irregular, there is nothing illegal that has happened or that the Speakers office has done to undermine the motion. The point of order therefore is inadmissible. I hope honorable members of this house, this clarifies the issue of the impeachment motion which as indeed the honorable member for Monze central has indicated has created some tension in the House.