MPs’ vulgar language worries Speaker

Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini says he has observed a disturbing trend by some members of parliament who resort to use of abusive language and threats of physical violence.

And Speaker Matibini says the Daily Nation’s misrepresentation of parliamentary proceedings goes against the very essence of press freedom.

On December 16, 2016, Roan PF Chishimba Kambwili rose on a point of order asking Speaker Matibini to rule whether Parliament Chief Whip Richard Musukwa was in order not site the Daily Nation Newspaper for contempt of the House by misrepresenting its proceedings.

Making his ruling today, Speaker Matibini advised members of parliament to desist from personal attacks which he said had become rife.

“Honourable members, I have observed a disturbing trend recently by some members to resort to use of abusive language and threats of physical violence. This kind of conduct, not only offends the rule of the House, but also unfortunately seriously undermines the decorum and dignity of the entire House,” Speaker Matibini said.

He urged MPs to maintain their temperament in accordance to parliamentary etiquette and asked them to avoid running negative commentaries on the floor of the House.

He also ruled that Kambwili was out of order when he referred to his Kabushi counterpart as a “boy”.

“Honourable members,  the verbatim record on Dr Kambwili’s debate shows that he referred to Honourable Lusambo, MP, as stated earlier, as a boy and stated that he warned ‘that boy’. By this statement Dr Kambwili MP, instead of addressing the chair  addressed the honourable minister and made a personal attack against him, two, [he] did not correctly address the Honourable Lusambo MP  and three, he used offensive and un-parliamentarian  language against the honourable  minister. Honourable members, I have always guided that if a member is provoked by another member’s conduct, correct procedure should be implored during a members conduct in line, in this regard by making a personal attack and using disrespectful and un-parliamentarian language against the honourable minister, Dr Kambwili was himself out of order,” Speaker Matibini ruled.

And Speaker Matibini cautioned the Daily Nation to report parliamentary proceedings objectively; saying media freedom was not absolute.

“My finding is to some extent the Daily Nation Newspaper reflected what Dr Kambwili said on the floor of the House on 15th December, 2016 however, the article was embellished with opinions and expressions that were not part of what transpired in the House,” Speaker Matibini said.

Matibini said the Daily Nation’s misrepresentation of parliamentary proceedings offended the very purpose of press freedom.

“To this end article 883 provides that the manner of commenting on proceedings of the House shall be prescribed, in this regard standing order 164 of the National Assembly standing orders 2016 guides on the manner in which the public may comment on parliamentary proceedings, the provision states that the comments must not discredit a member, must be based on factual and verified information, must not be in contempt of the House and must above all use civil language. In addition  section 25bof the national assembly  powers and privileges Acts chapter 12 of the Laws of Zambia makes it an offense for any person to publish false or scandalous liable on the assembly or to willfully misrepresent the proceeding of the assembly,” said Speaker Matibini.

“I wish to caution the media and in particular  the Daily Nation  that the exercise of the freedom of the press guaranteed  under Article 20  of the  Constitution of Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia places a duty on the media to ensure it reports both responsibility and accurately, this is paramount because misrepresentation of the proceedings of the assembly  offends the very sense of press freedom as it misinforms the public,  lowers the dignity of the House and  brings the House and its members in to unnecessary ridicule and disrepute.”

Speaker Matibini ruled that Musukwa was not out of order for not citing the Daily Nation for contempt because as Chief Whip, he was not the sole guardian of the House.

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