Mbabala UPND Member of Parliament Ephraim Belemu has asked Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini to include him on the list of 48 suspended MPs saying he does not want to benefit from something that is untruthful.
Belemu said this in Parliament this afternoon when he rose on a point of order seeking the Speaker’s guidance on why Namwala UPND Member of Parliament Moono Lubezhi was among the 48 suspended MPs despite having obtained permission from the party Chief whip to attend a court case.
“The point of order that I am raising Mr Speaker is of procedural nature. Sir, My point of order rises from the ruling of yesterday, in particular the ruling that culminated into a resolution to suspend the 48 members of the UPND. Sir, there is a prescribed format or procedure to apply for leave of absence and in this case the Honourable Member of Parliament for Namwala, Honourable Lubezhi had sort that permission to be absent from the House from the Honourable Chief whip and was approved and the reasons that she gave was that she was attending a court matter that was not of civil nature which is one of the allowable reasons for a member of parliament to be absent from the House,” Belemu said.
“But, in the resolution of yesterday, Honourable Lubezhi was also among the 48 that were suspended for 30 days and made to leave the Chamber through what you referred to as the door of shame. I have been left to wonder and she has also been left to wonder. She is in anguish as to what she would have done to express her leave of absence other than in the prescribed way of filling in a form at the Chief Whip’s office and eventually approved by him, a copy of which is in documentations of this House,” Belemu said.
And Belemu clarified that it was not because he was out of the country that he stayed away from the President’s state of the nation address, but because he was not well on the material day.
“Mr Speaker, the second premise on which I am raising this point of order is that among those that were excluded from the punishment of 30 days was myself. I am a sincere person and I am honest enough to indicate that the reasons that were indicated for my absence are not correct because I did not seek the leave of the Honourable Chief whip, however what is the fact is that during the said period I was being treated for an ailment that is associated with hypertension. Being a sincere person Mr Speaker, I don’t want to appear to benefit from something that is not true to the House. In view of this Mr Speaker, I seek your ruling on whether this House was in order to have passed a resolution that was defective and that appears to be victimizing members of the UPND on account of the party they belong to as opposed to the facts, because I am sure that this record is there at Parliament here and the fact that the Hounourable Chief whip approved the case of Honourable Lubezhi’s absence, that record must be there,” he said.
Belemu asked the Speaker to let him walk through the “door of shame” as well saying he was too honest to start benefiting from Parliament at the expense of the suspended MPs.
“Sir, the extension of the resolution which was passed yesterday therefore stands if it was based on facts or defective facts and appears that it is bias against the members of the UPND only; not on account of that particular day or leave of absence but on account of the party that they belong to. My question therefore Mr Speaker is that I offer myself to pass through the same door of shame because I do not want to benefit from what is not truthful, I thank you,” said Belemu before walking out of the House.
And in his ruling regarding the Namwala and Mbabala lawmakers, Speaker Matibini said he would in a matter of time investigate the two issues and make a ruling thereafter.
“My Ruling: As regards to the two specific cases you have pointed out, namely the one you are referring to the Honorable member for Namwala and indeed yourself! of course I need time to check on the records and confirm some of the assertions that you have made including those that relate to your situation. Therefore am not ready to conclude this particular aspect of your ruling immediately. But I also want to nonetheless refer to the general comment that maybe the UPND may have been victimized in this disciplinary measure, I also want to place this on record that there is no victimization whatsoever. If you care
to get a copy of the ruling, the second ruling, you will note that we issued charge letters, we got a representative response from your council and to date, no explanation has been given by members of the UPND for why they had not attended that particular meeting. Instead as I pointed out in the response, your council threatened to cite me, the clerk, and the legal council for contempt,” Dr Matibini said.
Dr Matibini also guided Members of Parliament to visit the office of the clerk and obtain copies of his previous rulings regarding the suspension of the 48 UPND members of Parliament, for avoidance of doubt and emphasis.
“But the bottom line is that there is no victimization and this is not an occasion for me to repeat what I delivered yesterday, it’s not the occasion for me to repeat myself. The office of the clerk is open, any member of parliament who seeks to have a copy of the ruling are free to approach the office of the clerk for avoidance of doubt and emphasis. I will look at those particular cases and investigate the assertions you have made. I cannot dispose of that ruling extempore,” said Speaker Matibini.