Several ministers on Thursday overwhelmed Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini when they took the opportunity to debate President Edgar Lungu’s speech as a chance to take jabs at Chishimba Kambwili for branding them thieves.
Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo was first to take on Kambwili on the floor of the house, saying the former government spokesperson was among the criminals who were vandalising infrastructure in his province.
“Yesterday Mr Speaker I was trying to share with the House how the working government of His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has been performing to the expectations of the people on the Copperbelt Province where infrastructure is concerned. Mr Speaker, the government of His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu has been putting up infrastructure on the Copperbelt despite some criminals who are vandalising this infrastructure. If you go to the Copperbelt today between Ndola and Luanshya, the rail line has been stripped off and the people Mr Speaker who stripped off this rail line, the money which they raised from this vandalism they have told us that they go to London to have coffee in the morning and come back in the afternoon to come and continue living on the Copperbelt,” Lusambo said.
“These people Mr Speaker are the people who are bringing the development on the Copperbelt down. Mr Speaker we in the government of His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu want to put up infrastructure where those visionless criminals who want to sabotage rail lines. Mr Speaker people wanted to turn the Copperbelt Province into an Animal Farm. Mr Speaker when His Excellency the President appointed me Minister of Copperbelt, we have changed things. It’s a no go area Mr Speaker and it’s a different ball game, it’s not business as usual even the authority which they were using to go and bull doze the companies to get contracts Mr Speaker even yourself can come freely to the Copperbelt with your business proposal, the companies will receive you as one of the Zambian citizens and you will get business on merit.”
Despite Speaker Matibini guiding Lusambo to stop debating individuals, the minister continued; “Mr Speaker, we have heard people mentioning about corruption in here. Mr Speaker this government is fighting corruption and those people who are speaking louder in this House, I want Mr Speaker for you and your other members to advise me because even putting up houses in golf course and allowing your animals to graze there is corruption. But when you come to the Copperbelt today Mr Speaker, the Copperbelt is now a Province for all and you can come and move there freely as a Zambian and as a resident of the Copperbelt Province.”
When it was lands minister Jean Kapata’s turn to debate, she dedicated a section to the expelled PF member of parliament.
“My debate is going to be in two parts. The first part I will cover the issues that were raised concerning my ministry, the second one Mr Speaker, I am going to call it ‘Chimbwi no plan’ which means a hyena without ideas and I hope that Mr Speaker, you will accept my debate divided into two,” Kapata said.
“Some people have chosen to have amnesia, some people, I think I will take honorable Minister of Luapula’s words that boogyman has chosen Mr Speaker, to ignore…”
But Speaker Matibini interjected; “Honorable minister, you were present yesterday, that is why you have referred to that phrase and if you recall, I ruled the minister out of order. So it would not be appropriate for you to adopt a phrase that I ruled out of order.”
Kapata then went on to charge that whilst he was still in government, Kambwili got numerous contracts which he did not fulfill.
“Thank you Mr Speaker for your guidance. There is an adage Mr Speaker which says when you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones. Mr Speaker, Chimbwi no plan stands and condemns government that government is so corrupt, we want him to tell this August House to come and explain, he used to get contracts when he was in government, he got a contract to build a market in Mwese and he never built that but he got the money,” she said.
Again, Speaker Matibini ordered her to focus on policy issues.
“The Speaker is speaking. Order! I am alive to the politics that are going on but the rules of the House do not allow to debate ourselves, I was guiding earlier on, there are other platforms elsewhere where these debates can be prosecuted, many many outlets. In fact, for the press men, they will jump to all these opportunities to engage you but here, what we are doing, a point of reminder, even the motion itself says we are looking at exposition of public policy by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia. Yesterday I noted that he has left a very loaded speech, this is the speech we should interrogate and not the politics. But I will not allow you to go that way,” Speaker Matibini said.
But Kapata repeated her allegations; “Thank you Mr Speaker, the President also talked about corruption Mr Speaker and Chimbwi no plan Mr Speaker got a contract of building Nakonde Market, that’s corruption, you get a contract and you don’t go to build, that is corruption in itself. He got Mr Speaker 25 per cent local contraction on Mansa Luwingu road up to date it has never been built.”
Speaker Matibini: Honorable member!
Kapata: He did not stop at that Mr Speaker, he also got a…
Speaker Matibini: I am speaking! Honorable minister, I would like you to debate. I know you have already structured this so maybe you are having difficulties to steer off but I am not permitting you. The only other option I will have is to curtail the debate and I am very slow, extremely slow to do that. I believe there are many other issues you can raise. But if you persist, I will cut the debates…I know the politics at hand…
Kapata then went on to discuss land issues but could not resist taking a last jab at Kambwili in her conclusion.
“Mr Speaker in my preamble I did talk about ministers who were dealing in the government and I want to correct the impression that the President actually fired the only minister who was corrupt. Others that were not corrupt are still there. So the issue of calling people that they are corrupt Mr Speaker, it must be reported to the Anti Corruption that’s why it is there. Any minister you think is corrupt and you have enough information, go and report to the anti corruption…and for me Mr Speaker I think I will be reporting the same minister so that he pays back the money that he got through the contracts which he didn’t execute. Thank you Mr Speaker, Chimbwi no plan, thank you,” said Kapata.
After Kapata, Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya, National Development Minister Lucky Mulusa and National Guidance Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili focused on policy issues, in their debates.
However, Minister of Labour Joyce Nonde-Simukoko reignited the flame against Kambwili when it was her turn to speak.
“Let’s not always occupy ourselves with hate, jealousy, envy and hatred because this is a waste of time. If God has given you a position, no man can destroy it. And I would also want to comment that those who leave, or after they have been relieved of their positions and then they start to disclose some secrets in Cabinet or whatever position they may hold is definitely not a decent way to go. Leadership does not tolerate that kind of behavior. Those who don’t agree with the current leadership or don’t agree with issues in Cabinet, if they have lost interest, the best thing they can do is to resign and then people will respect you,” said Nonde-Simukoko.
“But when you come out and then start saying things that are not supposed to be said, that is not leadership, it is simply bad mouthing…I urge our people to stop making false accusations and unsubstantiated claims of corruption but assist the law enforcement agencies with real evidence that may be useful in securing conviction… Some people are so jealous that they even look ugly, because of jealousy, hatred and envy, they look older than their age, so stop it!”
When it was Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo’s turn to debate, Speaker Matibini asked her to be brief as time had run out.
Prof Luo begun by asking her health counterpart Dr Chitalu Chilufya to set up a clinic to treat those who were consumed by jealousy.
“Mr Speaker, I want to reiterate that Dr Chilufya, the Minister of Health needs to help us in this country to be able to set up a clinic where people who are suffering from a disease called CCJ must be treated. And in my own self, I need to set up research Mr Speaker, to try and research on this disease. CCJ stands for Complaining, Criticism and Jealousy. So Mr Speaker, when I listen to the debate in this House, what came to mind is that while there are people in this House who are supposed to put checks and balances on us, they are so sick that they actually did not use this opportunity to give us checks and balances but they used this opportunity to expose their hate, which the President referred to as hate speech,” said Prof Luo.
“They also exposed the fact that they are not part of the team that wants to uphold national values and principles… It is sad to find young people insulting the President. Do they reflect to say ‘if one day I become a father, or a mother or by accident a president, because some of them it has to be an accident and I am going to be insulted how will I feel?’”