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UPND MPs are just showing ignorance – PFBy Sipilisiwe Ncube on 18 Jun 2017
Patriotic Front (PF) parliamentary chief whip Richard Musukwa says his party has no plans of making any constitutional changes during the period that 48 UPND members of parliament are on suspension.
Commenting on the statement by the 48 suspended MPs who fear that the ruling party might manipulate the Constitution in their absence, Musukwa said the opposition MPs had exposed their ignorance to the public because it was not possible to make constitutional changes without the required threshold.
“We have no plans as PF to bring constitutional changes using the back door, there is no credibility in that. We can’t do that even if we had an opportunity to do that during this period because we are a law-abiding government that follows the procedures. We cannot go that way and there is no urgency for us to make such changes, we are not in a hurry. What our friends in UPND should do is they should show remorse by being quiet and ensuring that the disciplinary procedure finishes instead of issuing statements which are unpalatable. I think the ruling of the speaker is very clear that they should shut up until after 30 days period,” Musukwa said.
“That is a statement coming form people who in the first place are frustrated because they thought that they would continue to hold Parliament in low esteem, but now Parliament has evoked the provisions of the standing orders to ensure that decorum is restored and discipline is maintained among the Members of parliament. First of all you need to appreciate that Members of Parliament are not above the law, they are not immune to the law. If they misconduct themselves the law will apply, and in this case the law has applied because they misconducted themselves. Edgar Chagwa Lungu was duly elected and properly sworn as President of the Republic of Zambia. And so the MPs were masquerading to use their privileges in order to ensure that they continue to posture wrong things in Parliament, and the law has been applied.”
Musukwa charged that the suspended MPs had not read the provisions of the Constitution and the circumstances under which it would be altered.
“So to insinuate that in their absence we are going to bring the Constitution is misplaced, the party is ignorant. Am actually surprised that seasoned Members of parliament among the UPND can actually insinuate that we intend to bring constitutional reforms in their absence, its not possible. First of all before that is done you need to have 30 days notice. Secondly before the 30 days notice, the provisions of the constitutional changes in terms of the Constitution talks about need for a threshold. It is clear that those guys have not read the Constitution. The threshold talks about the total number of MPs not the total number of MPs seating no!” he said.
He said it was not true that the ruling party MPs were colluding with the Speaker to dupe the opposition.
“What legitimacy would such a constitution change have in the absence of the other MPs? You know we are very clinical we cant do that. There is no need and there is no conniving with the speaker or anyone. The speaker exercises his authority in accordance with the Constitutional provisions. So really you can see that Bembas say ‘ulelosha tabamucheba kukanwa’ (you don’t stop mouners from grieving). Those people thought they would take Parliament for granted and now Parliament has shown them that it can bite. This must serve as a warning to any erring member who wants to pretend that they are beyond the jurisdiction of the law in terms of the standing orders, not at all. The standing orders are there to ensure that there is sanity and that is what we have done,” said Musukwa.
“How can we have a country with undisciplined MPs? How can they form government with such indiscipline? You have been punished for such indiscipline and you still continue issuing indiscipline statements. If you are punished you keep quiet. So those people should have the dignity of keeping quiet when you have been disciplined.”
About Sipilisiwe Ncube
Sipilisiwe Ncube is a Zambian journalist with a background in radio news.
Email: sipilisiwe [at] diggers [dot] news
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