CHOMA Central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa has petitioned the Lusaka High Court, seeking a declaration that the Speaker’s ruling that found him to have been out of order following a point of order raised by Lands Minister Jean Kapata that he attacked Vice-President Inonge Wina’s persona, is null and void.

Mweetwa who has cited the Attorney General as respondent, wants a declaration that the said ruling by Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini dated July 10, 2020, is null and void ab initio by reason of it being in breach of the fundamental freedoms enjoyed by him under Articles 11(b), 18, 20 and 21.

He also wants an order striking down section 3, 11 and 22 of the National Assembly Powers and Privileges Act; and an order that the pending disciplinary actions against him are illegal by reason of being in violation of Articles 11(b), 18, 20 and 21.

According to a petition filed in the Lusaka High Court, Tuesday, Mweetwa stated that as a Zambian citizen, he was entitled to the protection of his rights enshrined under Article 11 (b) and as enunciated under Articles 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

He added that Sections 3 of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act violates the fundamental rights of freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 20 by restricting the freedom to express ones views and opinions.

Mweetwa explained that July 10, 2020, the Speaker rendered a ruling on the said point of order raised by Kapata that he (Mweetwa) allegedly attacked the persona of the Vice President on a Diamond Television program and found him to have been out of order, in breach of parliamentary privilege and in contempt of the House and therefore decided to admonish him as punishment for the same.

He stated that the Speaker admonished him but he declined to apologise for the same because he verily believes that his reaction to the statement by the Vice President was in enjoyment of his freedom of expression, assembly and association as guaranteed in the Constitution.

Mweetwa stated that on July 14, 2020, he wrote to the Clerk of the National Assembly seeking to challenge the decision of the Speaker for admonishing him as punishment for an offence which he did not accept liability.

He added that on July 17, 2020, the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to him demanding that he exculpates himself for refusing to apologise and for engaging the Speaker on the same subject matter as he forced him to apologise.

Mweetwa further stated that on October 15, 2020, the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to him declining to table his motion to challenge the decision of the Speaker to admonish and compel him to apologise against his volition.

“In a surprising turn of events, after the refusal to allow the petitioner (Mweetwa) to challenge the ruling of the Speaker, on October 21, 2020, the Clerk of the National Assembly did write to the petitioner requiring him to exculpate himself for his refusal to apologise and explanation to the Speaker as to why he declined to render an apology. On November 13, 2020, the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to the pettioner notifying him that he would be subjected to further disciplinary hearings on November 18, 2020 and moved to December 2, 2020,” he stated.

Mweetwa argued that his fundamental freedoms under Articles 11 (b), 18, 20 and 21 have been violated by the National Assembly through the Speaker and the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges Committee).

He added that the continued actions on the part of the National Assembly clearly showed that if not precluded from so doing, the said National Assembly will continue to abrogate his rights.

“The said actions of the National Assembly are illegal and a breach of the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of Zambia,” stated Mweetwa.