Operation Young Vote (OYV) executive director Guess Nyirenda yesterday rose on a point of order at the on-going National Dialogue Forum, asking the chair to rule whether Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe was in order to attend the meeting in a disturbing manner that suggested that she was either very drunk or sick.
According to eyewitnesses, Mwanakatwe attended the Saturday afternoon plenary session in a suspected drunken stupor as she struggled to walk unaided, and kept dozing before she was helped out of the auditorium by some sympathisers.
“When she came in, she was literally struggling to walk and she almost fell in front of the desk that was in front of her. She was aided by someone who was next to her who pointed to her seat. Someone brought her a bottle of water and she drunk it. But still, she was not concentrating. She was just dozing. Then after some time, some two women noticed that it was really bad and embarrassing, so they came and helped her out. Later, one of the women came and collected her things, and that’s how she left,” narrated an NDF official who sought anonymity.
“It was just a horrible sight and it has dented the image of female leaders.”
And when the Forum resumed sitting yesterday, Nyirenda demanded to know what was wrong with Mwanakatwe.
“Is this House in order to proceed with deliberations without telling the members what transpired on Saturday when the Finance Minister came to the House in a manner that was disturbing? We don’t know whether she was drunk or not, and if she was sick, can the House be informed on how she is doing?” demanded Nyirenda.
But NDF Committee chairman Prof Muyunda Mwanalushi and Plenary Group Three chairman Bishop David Masupa responded saying the query should be referred to the standing committee for determination.
Plenary Group Two chairperson, Sikota Wina, also commented saying it was not right to discuss the matter in the absence of the accused.
According to sources within the National Dialogue Forum, the standing committee asked Nyirenda if he had evidence that the Minister was drunk, to which he responded in the negative.
And when Mwanakatwe arrived at the Mulungushi International Conference Center yesterday, still in a suspected drunken stupor, she went straight to the voting room demanding to pass her vote on the resolutions, but was told the poll had closed. The Minister insisted but the officers from ECZ turned her away.
Meanwhile, journalists accosted Mwanakatwe when she finally before she left the Forum yesterday afternoon, demanding her comments on the point of order and the Saturday incident.
The minister however ignored the journalists, as PF deputy media director Antonio Mwanza was heard shouting from the vicinity saying “Honourable don’t answer them, that’s our Finance Minister why do you want to embarrass her?”
Mwanakatwe then proceeded to join other delegates at the event, but was still captured dozing as she was struggling to concentrate on deliberations.