Parliament summons Antonio over MPs’ salaries comment

The National Assembly of Zambia has summoned FDD Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza for allegedly giving misleading information to the public concerning parliamentarians’ emoluments.

This follows a point of order raised by Serenje MMD member of parliament Maxwell Kabanda on Thursday last week challenging the accuracy of Mwanza’s claims in an article carried by the Daily Nation Newspaper.

In a letter signed by Doris Kapumba on behalf of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Parliament asked Mwanza to explain whether or not remarks attributed to him in a Daily Nation article were correct.

“I am directed to inform you that a point of order was raised against you on the floor of the House on 22nd June, 2017 by Hon M Kabanda, Member of Parliament for Serenje Parliamentary Constituency. The point of order relates to an article attributed to you, Sir, which was published in the Daily Nation Newspaper on Thursday, 22nd June, 2017, entitled ‘Suspended MPs challenge Speaker’,” Kapumba stated.

“In the point of order, the Hon Member essentially alleges that your statements in the Daily Nation newspaper were misleading and unsubstantiated were essentially in the breach of the provisions of the National Assembly (powers and privilleges) Act, Cap.12 of the Laws of Zambia.”

She advised Mwanza to state the side of his story regarding the point of order which was raised against him by Friday this week.

“The purpose of this letter is, therefore, to request you to state whether or not the statements complained of in the said article where correctly attributed to you and for you to state your side of the story. Enclosed herein is a verbatim of the point of order. It would be appreciated if your response would reach the office of the clerk of the National Assembly by Friday, 30th June, 2017,” stated Kapumba.

Mwanza was quoted in the Daily Nation questioning the amount of money which MPs made per sitting saying there was a pure case of institutionalized theft.

“This is what your MPs get for dozing or shouting ‘Hear Hear Hear’ in the House: Sitting allowance: K3, 000 per sitting. Multiply that by 4 sittings per week, it comes to K12, 000 per month per MP. And if an MP sits in two committees he walks away with K9, 000 per day. So in a month, one MP gets a whooping K48, 000 in allowances alone. Add a Salary of about K31, 000 to that, plus Accommodation allowance which is calculated at K500 per day plus upkeep allowance, plus tax free beer and food, the total amount we are spending to service one MP comes to a gigantic K100, 000 per month. Forget about the tax-free vehicle, traveling allowances, plus a staggering gratuity of about K500, 000 after five years of dozing and shouting ‘Hear Hear Hear!!!’” Mwanza said.

“In short we are spending over K250, 000, 000 per annum feting our MPs. Preposterous! What about Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Constitution Office Holders. Simply put, the poor are working for the politicians. Now check those amounts and look at the state of the constituencies these same MPs come from, look at the poverty of their people. How much does a qualified teacher, lecturer, nurse, police officer gets for serving the community? Masese. The minimum qualification for being an MP is G12 or a certificate in knitting, photocopying and binding, plumbing etc but the minimum salary of an MP is K100, 000 per month. How? Why?,” Mwanza wondered.

Mwanza further charged that it was because Zambian politics had been commercialized that people were willing to do anything to stay in power.

“This commercialization of our politics has largely contributed to the dirt in our politics. People are ready to kill, steal, fight just to be in power or to hold on to power because of the lucrative nature of our politics. Our politics is no longer about service, it’s about money, deals, corruption and all sorts of negativity in man at the expense of the poor. This must change if we ever have to achieve sanity, decency and service to mankind,” said Mwanza.

Mirriam Chabala

About Mirriam Chabala

Mirriam Chabala is a Zambian journalist who covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news

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