Suspected PF cadres besieged the National Assembly entrance, Thursday afternoon, dictating which of the members of parliament could be allowed inside the premises, while harassing opposition MPs believed to be critical of the government.
And when Thursday’s parliamentary session commenced at 14:30 hours, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini had a tough time trying to calm the angry lawmakers who rose on points of order over the fracas outside the building.
When the House started considering questions for oral answer, Kafue UPND member of parliament Mirriam Chonya asked Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale if there were any plans by government to upgrade Kafue Town Council to City Council status.
It was at this point that leader of the opposition in the House Jack Mwiimbu, who is also Monze UPND member of parliament, rose on a point of order, beckoning Speaker Matibini to intervene in the fracas that the opposition MPs were subjected outside the House.
“Mr Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order, hinging on the privileges of members of parliament. Mr Speaker, as we were coming into the premises of Parliament, we found party cadres controlling those who entered your Parliament grounds. Mr Speaker, I am a proponent of those members of the public who would want to demonstrate as long as they follow the laws of this country. But Mr Speaker, is it right that members of the public, especially members of the Patriotic Front, can come to Parliament and start controlling the premises of Parliament and harassing members of parliament as they enter these grounds? And there was no police whatsoever to protect your members here. Are they in order, Mr Speaker? Is the Parliament in order to expose your members to danger as the situation is outside there?” Mwiimbu asked.
But in response, Speaker Matibini could not immediately condemn the act by the suspected cadres, but promised to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
“This is a matter that has just been brought to my attention. Obviously, I need to investigate it and establish the facts and I will reserve my ruling,” said Speaker Matibini as he invited the Kafue member of parliament to carry on with her follow-up question.
Chonya, however, could not complete her follow-up question to Mwale when she was interrupted by Chiengi member of parliament Given Katuta, who rose on a similar point of order to petition Speaker Matibini to rule over whose mandate it was to protect members of parliament from danger.
“Mr Speaker, I would like to raise a point of order regarding security of members of parliament. As I am talking, Mr Speaker, I am shaken! My vehicle is almost damaged outside. I want to know, Mr Speaker, if the ruling government would continue allowing its cadres here. Who should give us the protection? Mr Speaker, who should protect us? Is it the National Assembly or the government? Or is it because we are opposition? Should anyone who is from the opposition be attacked? But for what? Mr Speaker, I need your serious ruling on the protection of the members of parliament! I need your serious ruling regarding those people who almost harmed me, they almost hurt me for nothing, Honourable Kakubo is my witness. I thank you, Mr Speaker,” submitted Katuka.
But in his response, Speaker Matibini maintained his earlier ruling.
“Honourable members, let’s have order! I have already indicated [that] first this matter has just been brought to my attention. Secondly, as I am talking, I have already given instructions. Third, I am going to render a formal ruling. The matter is being attended to already. I will render a formal ruling in the matter. But instructions have been issued. So, we shouldn’t go over and over it,” guided Matibini, as he called for normal business to resume in the House.