Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini had a tough time ducking counter Points of Order in parliament yesterday as MPs exchanged innuendos following President Edgar Lungu’s eventful national address last week.
The Head of State delivered a second routine nation address to the House, but opposition UPND members of parliament stayed away on both occasions on grounds that President Lungu was not legitimately elected, a move which sparked renewed outrage among members of the ruling party.
Immediately after the President’s address, PF members of Parliament, led by Justice Minister Given Lubinda held a private caucus (exposed by News Diggers!), where they resolved to compel Speaker Matibini to suspend the absentee MPs through the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
After a weekend of plotting and scheming for both sides of the major political rivals, the MPs returned to the House yesterday heated with accusations and counter accusations, giving Speaker Matibini a daunting task; constantly stopping debate to call for order in a clearly disorderly House
Speaker Matibini reserved ruling for all but one point of order.
Kanchibiya’s Martin Malama was first to seek Speaker Matibini’s ruling on the boycott by UPND MPs.
“Mr Speaker, on the 14th of March this year, a notice was circulated advising of the address by His Excellency the President of this Republic and this motion was supported by honorable Professor Lungwangwa and honorable ‘Mwanachingwele’ as regards its constitutionality. Now Mr Speaker, were the members on your left in order to absent themselves on the 17th of March when Parliament assembled here and the President addressed Parliament?” asked Malama.
Speaker Matibini ruled that he had resolved to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee.
“My ruling on that point of order, of course it is correct that a notification was issued to all honorable members advising that on the material date, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu was scheduled to address the House as well as the nation at large. And as you have correctly stated, a certain segment of the House elected to stay away. Since the event, my office has received several complaints regarding the same event and incident. And I am already resolved to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee,” Speaker Matibini said.
Almost immediately, Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu rose on what was his party major point of order, asking Speaker Matibini to rule on PF MPs singing of political songs on the floor of the House.
“Mr Speaker, you may not be aware that the whole of last week, I was mourning my uncle in Monze, however, on the 17th of March in the morning whilst I was still in Monze, I had the misfortune of watching the happenings in this House,” Mwiimbu began as PF MPs questioned how Mwiimbu was watching television at the funeral of his uncle.
This forced Speaker Matibini to stop Mwimbu’s point of order to call for order from PF members.
“Honorable member for Monze, sit down, give me a bit of chance. Honorable members, I know where you are coming from a very difficult situation. But let’s transact business in a manner expected of us. There are certain expectations about how we should proceed. All these points of orders, if I may point out, will be processed according to the law, according to the rules of the House, which are already laid down. All I need is some space, I need some space. So, let’s hear what this point of order is all about,” Speaker Matibini said.
Mwiimbu then continued; “Mr Speaker as I indicated, the proceedings in the House were broadcast by ZNBC, live to the nation and not only to the nation but internationally. Mr Speaker, to my horror and disbelief, I witnessed and I saw something very unprecedented from the inception of this Parliament. Mr Speaker, members on your right, started singing on the floor of this House, chanting political slogans in the House and it was orchestrated, it was planned. And the song that was being sung was that ‘nga Lungu talipo, bonse aba nibangwele’.”
Mwiimbu wondered whether it was in order for MPs to sing and chant political slogans in the House.
“They further went to say ‘twalaizandamuna’. Mr Speaker, the point I am raising is the dignity, the etiquette and the decorum of this House. That is the decorum I am complaining against. Mr Speaker, what transpired will set a very bad precedent for this House for the future, unless now anyone can rise and start singing on the floor of this House. If that is the position, I have no problem. As if that was not enough Mr Speaker, the chief whip went on television Zambia where he issued threats against the UPND members that if they came to Parliament, there will be mayhem,” he observed.
Mwiimbu then referenced to a secret meeting of PF MPs.
“Mr Speaker, as if that was not enough, the members on your right, the MMD members, the PF members, FDD and independent members of parliament had a meeting where they resolved that they are going to constitute a committee to compel you Mr Speaker to suspend the members of the UPND for one year. Mr Speaker, the unfortunate part of that meeting is that the members of your committee of the Privileges Committee were participating and advising how they would deal with these members. And compel you that today, Tuesday the 21st you are going to suspend these members for one year,” Mwiimbu said.
“Mr Speaker, will the members of your committee like Honorable Lubinda who sat, deliberated, advised and conspired how they are going to proceed to deal with these members be allowed to sit as members of the Privileges Committee contrary to the regulations and rules that govern the procedures of this House? We have a recording of what transpired in that meeting and that evidence shall be laid on the table. Were those members that I have cited in order to misconduct themselves in your presence on the floor of this House contrary to the rules of this House?”
Speaker Matinini then responded; “You’ve raised a number of issues which require careful examination and study, and to that extent, I will reserve my ruling.”
Kawambwa PF member of parliament Nixon Chilangwa was next and he confirmed the PF meeting which sat to agree on how to handle the UPND boycott.
He also wondered whether Mwiimbu was in order to watch TV whilst at a funeral.
“Mr Speaker, where I come from we say ‘ubuntu ninsoni’. Literally meaning that a person must have self introspective (sic). Mr Speaker, when bangwele meet, it is not an issue or when cantankerous people meet, it is not an issue. Mr Speaker, after President Edgar Lungu’s address, your well-meaning members of parliament met to discuss and share ideas as we always do. Mr Speaker, it has never been an issue. Mr Speaker we have on our hands on record that a group of bangwele met the night before the presidential address,” Chilangwa said but Speaker Matibini asked him to disgorge the term ‘bangwele’.
“Mr Speaker, as I was saying, all of us have been to funerals, there is nobody who watches TV at a funeral. Mr Speaker is honorable member for Monze Jack Mwiimbu in order to come here and come and portray that he was watching TV at a funeral, which is unZambian? And watching the proceedings which he himself and his colleagues abstained from? Is he in order?”
At this point, Speaker Matibini informed the House that he would roll up all points of order into one ruling.
“I am aware that this very unusual day is coming from the events of Friday. So as we encounter this flurry of points of order, I will just roll up all of them. I will roll up. I don’t know where we are ending with this but I will roll up everything in a single ruling,” said Speaker Matibini.
Others who rose of points of order were:
Mandevu PF member of parliament Jean Kapata: “My point of order is on honorable member of parliament for Katuba. Mr Speaker, on Thursday, she debated so well on behalf of the women of Zambia and urged the government through the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu to put issues of women in the speech. Was she in order to stay away and betray the women in her constituency and myself?”
Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo: “Mr Speaker, every member of this House has got his rights and priviledges and they are free to do as they wish according to the standing orders of this House and the Constitution. One gallant gentleman representative of the people of Chilanga who is a renowned lawyer, who understands how it is to respect the Constitution decided to respect the supreme document of the land and the oath he took before you in this House of pledging allegiance to the President of Zambia. This honorable member Mr Speaker has suffered abuse by lawlessness citizens who do not understand the Constitution. Mr Speaker the honorable member deserves to be protected and I want to place it on record that us from Ministry of Home Affairs will make sure that the honorable member’s life and that of his family is not tampered with by any criminal. Mr Speaker, is this House in order not to protect its own law abiding members and are the lawlessness people in order to continue threatening and disturbing the life of this honorable law abiding member of parliament?”
Eastern Province minister Makebi Zulu: “Over the weekend I was agonizing over the provisions of Cap 12 of the laws of Zambia which prohibits any person from stopping any member of parliament from attending Parliament. Arising from that, I seek your serious guidance and ruling as to whether the UPND party was in order to prevent its members from attending to their Constitutional duties by attending Parliament on Friday. If it is not in order, shouldn’t criminal proceedings then follow against whoever prevented the members of UPND from attending Parliament?”
Nchanga member of parliament Chali Chilombo: “I am raising this point of order on the leader of the opposition honorable Jack Mwiimbu. Mr Speaker, was honorable Jack Mwiimbu in order to raise a point of order in this House based on speculation? Further, he went on to cite resolutions of a meeting he was never part of. Was honorable Jack Mwiimbu in order?”