The 48 UPND members of Parliament who have been suspended for shunning President Edgar Lungu State of the Nation Address have challenged the Speaker’s decision in the High Court, claiming they were merely exercising their freedom of expression.
On June 13 Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini suspended the parliamentarians for 30 days without pay or allowances.
But the 48 MP’s have sought for leave to apply for judicial review to challenge the suspension.
Nalikwanda member of Parliament Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa and 47 others are seeking a declaration that the Speaker’s decision was illegal as they were just exercising their freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution.
Professor Lungwangwa who has sued the Attorney General is seeking an order to quash the decision of the Speaker.
“The said decision of the respondent’s servant is thus illegal, unconstitutional, undemocratic and pernicious; as such ought to be quashed,” reads part of lawsuit.
Professor Lungwangwa submitted that if leave was granted, the suspension should be halted or stayed.
“In these premises I crave the indulgence of the honorable court to grant the applicants leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the respondent and that the said leave should act as a stay of the subject’s decision of the Honorable Speaker of 13 th June 2017 to suspend the 48 MPs of UPND,” submitted Professor Lungwangwa.
He added that the suspension struck them with a sense of incredulity as they were just exercising their democratic right to boycott.
He said the alleged absenteeism was never referred to the committee on privileges as per practice and that the suspension was effected without affording them an opportunity to be heard on the charges slapped.