Fifty four UPND members of parliament want the Lusaka High Court’s declaration that the Speaker’s decision to reprimand and order them to apologize for boycotting Parliament was irregular, illegal and unreasonable.
According to an affidavit in support of ex-parte summons for leave to apply for judicial review filed on Thursday, UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka stated that Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini’s action was dictatorial and a bulling tactic to cow UPND members of parliament into submitting to President Edgar Lungu; whose legitimacy is still being questioned before the courts.
Katuka also submitted that the Speaker’s ruling did not conform to Articles 19 and 20 of the Constitution of Zambia.
According to Katuka, the UPND had resolved to boycott the presence and speeches of the President whenever he attended Parliament.
He further stated that the members of parliament should not be unduly and unjustly hindered from exercising their freedom of expression through boycotting the President’s presence and speeches in Parliament.
The UPND MPs wanted the court to stay the Speaker’s decision until the matter was determined but judge Susan Wenjelani refused to grant the ex-parte order for stay of Speaker Matibini’s decision and instead set a date for inter-partes hearing; March 24.
On September 30, 2016, UPND MPs boycotted the official opening of Parliament by President Lungu.
Speaker Matibini ordered them to apologise in December but the UPND MPs also boycotted President Lungu’s State of the Nation address yesterday.