UPND national chairperson Mutale Nalumango says political players are turning the National Assembly into a battle filed because they do not have equal space outside of Parliament to speak freely.
And Nalumango who is former deputy Speaker of the National Assembly says the failure for the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) to agree with opposition on the position that the Church must Chair the national dialogue has also contributed to the ongoing aggression amongst members of parliament in the House.
On October 16, Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili got yet another beating ordeal in Parliament from Presidential Affairs Minister Freedom Sikazwe after he called him a witch.
The incident happened when Kambwili was debating the 2019 budget and Sikazwe kept interrupting the former Information Minister with running commentaries. It took a horde of other MPs to restrain Sikazwe who had reached out for Kambwili’s throat while throwing punches in the Chambers.
But commenting on the matter in an interview with News Diggers! Nalumango who condemned the behaviour of the two lawmakers said she however understood the anger that was in hearts of MPs, especially those from the opposition because they had no other means of airing their views outside Parliament.
“Members of parliament must remember who they are, that is the cardinal point. When people elect you, you go there for serious matters, you don’t go there for personal petty issues or time to vent out your anger. But I do understand that the issue at hand is that political players do not have space outside Parliament to engage. So they go in there with that anger to do politics in the House. So as such, it’s difficult to blame them. What we need is political space outside Parliament, free expression of opinions and once that happens, I don’t think we will see any personal confrontations in the House,” she said.
“But if that is not done and others are squeezed out of the playing field, then parliament will be their only ground for people to vent out what they feel is not right. So maybe that’s what’s happening. I mean, if we call for a meeting as the opposition and then the police come and arrest us, then what do we do? The only place they won’t come and arrest you is in Parliament. So you say what you want to say in Parliament, which is not good. Let the political space be levelled for all of us.”
Nalumango further explained that the failure for the ruling party to agree to dialogue with the opposition under the Church had also contributed to the aggressiveness of lawmakers.
“Who is saying that dialogue is up to Hakainde and Lungu? I think we are also leaving our responsibilities as a nation, in the sense that we should call a spade a spade. Hakainde and UPND have said they are more than ready to go to dialogue led by the Church. And there is no way we can corrupt the Church, we don’t even have the capacity to do that but our colleagues still refused. So the Church must have taken responsibility and said ‘we are calling you all to dialogue. Whoever doesn’t come then we will see’. To me that’s how I see it. Because PF at one point, including Lungu said they were ready for the Church led dialogue talks. They even said ‘it is UPND which is not ready’. But us we have been ready, we are ready. For us even today if the [Church] Mother Bodies want they can go ahead and say ‘come’, we are ready to go. And how ready should we be? Should we call Lungu ourselves? Do you think Lungu will come if we say ‘Lungu come’?” wondered Nalumango.
“After all the person who is holding the instruments of power, rightly or wrongly is Lungu. And he has all the capacity to say ‘let’s go’ and if we refuse then people will say ‘ah ah, but the Church has said come and the President has said come’. At that point then people can truly and sincerely say ‘what do you people want? You don’t want the Church’… so the failure to dialogue is also destroying institutions of government, including Parliament. Because you are having members of Parliament who come bottled up and therefore, they start calling each other names in the House, which is not necessary. And Parliament is not a platform for such but you are squeezing them and they don’t know what else to say.”