People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti says the will of the Patriotic Front (PF) is to have a one-party National Assembly.

Mulongoti’s remarks come in the wake of the decision by Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini was to suspend the 48 UPND members of parliament for boycotting President Edgar Lungu’s state of the nation address.

In an interview yesterday, Mulongoti condemned the ‘undemocratic’ move.

“That is the will of the PF, they would want to see that Parliament becomes a one party arrangement consisting of their members only, that is why they called for that suspension. But I don’t think our Constitution was created in a manner to only provide for one political party in there. We are a multi-party state and because of that, there must be divergent views and we expect the leaders in Parliament to exercise maximum tolerance. Now by sending away those 48 MPs and mind you, they did not come to parliament on their own, they were sent there by the people. So who will they punish? They will punish the people who sent them there because they exercised their rights to vote and sent their leaders to Parliament but the Speaker and his management decided to send them away,” Mulongoti said.

Mulongoti said people had the right to protest.

“I would have expected him to exercise Judicial prudence in that the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia protects the rights of people to speak, to assemble, to demonstrate and to do anything. Now how can he [the Speaker], in a House where speaking is the order of the day, where expression of dissent can only be walking out and sometimes? And the Constitution says, all those rules and laws that are in consistence with these rights are null and void. So I am beginning to worry if we are beginning to ignore the supreme law of the land which is the Constitution under the Bill of Rights which protects the will of the people including the rights of MPs, how can the Speaker who is a Lawyer by training forget?” Mulongoti wondered.

“Members of Parliament have got the right to remain in Parliament, they have got the right to walk out of Parliament. Those rights are guaranteed in the Constitution, now we are seeing a lot of intolerance which is coming from the executive, in the judiciary and the legislature. It is a very sad development but I know along the way we expect these MPs to challenge this decision because their rights are intact under Constitution.”

Mulongoti observed that President Edgar Lungu’s aim was to finish off the UPND.

“I will tell you that the circumstances in which they have done it is because they walked away from the speech by Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu President of Zambia, shouldn’t that be embarrassing? It must not be like that because Mr Lungu is in contention with Mr Hichilema who is the President of the UPND, so what they have done is that they have extended that fight from Mr Hichilema to the Members of Parliament and the intention is to destroy the UPND and I do not think that’s the way to go, what has happened to our democracy? What has happened to the leadership of this country? They have become so intolerant to a level where they want to finish off other political parties for the sake of their existence but they will not win this matter I can tell you,” said Mulongoti.