In this audio, Zambia’s Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini castigates opposition FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza on the floor of the House after finding him guilty of committing contempt of Parliament through a Facebook posting.
Mwanza was found guilty (by admission) of posting misleading and false information on his personal Facebook, about the emoluments of members of parliament.
In his ruling today, following the recommendation from a Parliamentary Committee, Speaker Matibini said Mwanza, through his Facebook posting, caused the Daily Nation Newspaper to publish false information, which the newspaper did not take time to verify.
“Mr Antonio Mwanza denied having given the Daily Nation an Interview, but admitted that he had published a story on his Facebook page. He stated that as a watchdog arm of government, Parliament should take a leading role in ensuring transparency and accountability by making emoluments and other benefits of members of parliament, known to the public,” Speaker Matibini said.
“Honourable members, the Committee on Privileges, Accesses and Support Services, met to consider the matter with Mr Antonio Mwanza and Ms M Mbewe, the executive editor of the Daily Nation, who appeared before the committee. The Committee observed that the point of order from the Honourable member from Serenje, raised the issue of contempt, with regards to the case of publishing false or scandalous libel against members of parliament… Any person who publishes false or scandalous libel of the Assembly or any report that wilfully misrepresents, in any way proceedings of Assembly, shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable to conviction with a fine not exceeding 5,000 penalty units, or to imprisonment with or without hard labour, for a time not exceeding 12 months or both.”
Take a listen:
He rebuked Mwanza for not verifying the information before publishing it on Facebook.
“Mr Antonio Mwanza posted on his Facebook Page, without verifying the accuracy of the information. In determining the punishment to impose on Mr Antonio Mwanza, the committee took into account the following pattern: 1, that the offence committed by Mr Antonio Mwanza was a criminal offence, for which he was liable to be prosecuted. And 2, that Mr Mwanza was not a first offender, as he had committed a similar offence against the House, for which he was reprimanded by the Honourable Mr Speaker on Friday 6 August 2010. However, in view of the extreme remorsefulness, and the unreserved apology tendered by Mr Antonio Mwanza to the Committee, the committee decided to exercise lenience. In this regard, recommended that Mr Mwanza be reprimanded before the House,” Speaker Matibini explained.
He then went ahead to directly reprimand Mwanza.
“Mr Antonio Mwanza, your conduct of publishing false, scandalous, libellous and misleading information regarding the emoluments paid to members of Parliament, was a breach of Parliamentary privileges and contempt of the House. Members’ emoluments are not a secret, they are contained in a Statutory Instrument which is a public document… your conduct was highly irresponsible and evidently mischievous and a calculated attempt to ridicule members of parliament. You should use this opportunity to introspect and change for the better. Should you in future commit a similar contempt, you will be liable to prosecution. Let me also caution the Daily Nation and other media houses to verify information they get regarding the House before publishing to avoid spreading falsehood which amounts to contempt of the House,” said Speaker Matibini.
“I now order you Mr Antonio Mwanza to unreservedly apologise for publishing false, misleading and unsubstantiated information that was reported by the Daily Nation.”
Mwanza went ahead to apologise, but caused laughter in the House when he introduced himself as Mourinho.
“Mr Speaker, I Antonio Mourinho Mwanza (laughter in the house), in my personal capacity, do unreservedly apologise to this August House in General and in particular Honourable members of parliament, for the article which appeared in the Daily Nation Newspaper issue number 1696, published on Thursday 22 June, 2017 containing misleading information regarding emoluments paid to members of parliament,” said Mwanza.
“Sir I have reflected on the article and find that I indeed went against section 25B of the National Assembly Powers and Privileges Act… for this I sincerely regret and apologise to the Honourable members for the embarrassment and ridicule occasioned by the publication. Sir I have carefully listened to the guidance you have given me and appreciate the leniency shown by the House. I wish to assure you and this House that I shall endeavour to abide by t he rules and procedures of this House. To this end, I shall hence force conduct myself in a more responsible and objective manner. Mr Speaker I thank you.”
Speaker Matibini then gave Mwanza marching orders from the House.
“I now order you Mr Antonio Mwanza to imeediately leave the House through the main door and to immediately vacate the precincts of the National Assembly,” ordered Speaker Matibini.