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Speaker relied on Constitution lacunas to declare Chilanga seat vacant – WynterBy Mirriam Chabala on 15 Mar 2018
Wynter Kabimba says lacunas in the Constitution allowed Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini to declare the Chilanga seat in vacant despite murder-convict Keith Mukata’s appeal.
Kabimba, who is Rainbow Party general secretary and also an established lawyer, explained to News Diggers in an interview that the Constitution empowered the Speaker to declare a seat vacant upon conviction.
“Well, I looked at the Constitution and I found that there is nothing that prevents the Speaker from declaring a parliamentary seat vacant when its occupant has been convicted. Yes, this decision has been made under this same Constitution that has got a lot of lacunas but a lacuna is just a loophole. In law, a lacuna is a loophole, and that loophole has facilitated the decision of the Speaker because there is nothing that prevents the Speaker from declaring the seat vacant in such circumstances. So a lacuna is simply a window through which you can go. There is nothing express that prevents you from doing what you have done, that’s why the Speaker had to declare that seat vacant,” Kabimba explained.
“The legislation that is governing now is the amended constitution and there is nothing express in the amended constitution which says if someone has appealed then their seat must not be declared vacant, no. And Mr Mukata is still a convict. He (Keith Mukata) he is not serving a sentence now because he’s sill waiting for his appeal to be heard.”
Kabimba outlined provisions of the Constitution which would disqualify one from being a member of parliament.
“He is not serving a sentence, Mr Mukata will only start serving his sentence after his appeal has been heard. If you go to constitution amendment number two of 2016, there is an article  that deals with qualifications of a member of parliament as well as disqualifications and you will find that under disqualifications, article 70 and 71 state that ‘a person shall be disqualified from being a member of parliament if that person is validly nominated as a candidate in a presidential election; is a public officer or Constitutional office holder; is a judge or judicial officer; has a mental or physical disability that would make them incapable of performing the legislative function; is an undischarged bankrupt; is serving a sentence of imprisonment for an offence under a written law; or has, in the immediate preceding five years, served a term of imprisonment of at least three years. So, one of the subclauses says ‘if a member of parliament is convicted’, not if he’s sentenced but convicted,” explained Kabimba.
About Mirriam Chabala
Mirriam covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news
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