We have no powers to prosecute absent MPs – NDF

National Dialogue Forum secretary Patrick Chisanga says the NDF leadership will not prosecute members of parliament who are absent from the ongoing Constitutional making process, explaining that the forum does not have that mandate.

And Chisanga has revealed that United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia (UPPZ) leader Charles Chanda will be summoned by the Forum’s Standing Committee to exculpate himself for walking out on NDF Chairperson Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi during Wednesday’s deliberations.

Speaking during a media briefing at the NDF secretariat in Lusaka, Wednesday, Chisanga dispelled allegations that Prof Mwanalushi had threatened to have MPs absent at the National Dialogue Forum arrested.

“Over the last few days, we have kept receiving press queries from the media on our position regarding the members of parliament who have stayed away from the National Dialogue Forum. As you may be aware, the National Dialogue Forum is a creation of an Act of Parliament with a very clear mandate. The Act provides for all members of parliament to attend the Forum. However, where some members decided to stay away, the Forum will not and has no mandate to compel them to attend. I must therefore make it clear that none, among the leadership of the Forum, has stated that we shall punish any member who has decided to stay away from the Forum. The Forum has no powers to prosecute or take legal action against any member who decides to stay away from the Forum,” Chisanga said.

“I, [therefore], wish to dispel a media report that was assigned to the Chairperson of the Forum, Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi to the effect that he was threatening imprisonment against those members of parliament who have decided to stay away from the Forum. The fact of the matter is that Professor Mwanalushi did not make any such statement and was therefore quoted completely out of context.”

But Chisanga revealed that Chanda and Kitwe Mayor Christopher Kang’omber would be disciplined for misconduct by the NDF’s Standing Committee.

“As regards these gentlemen, it’s apparent that their conduct could have breached the rules of procedure. Now what will happen is that these cases will be referred to the Standing Committee so that they can be heard and fully discussed and Standing Committee will recommend appropriate courses of corrective actions. The same thing applies to the Mayor of Kitwe, because it was irregular that he took a matter that was being discussed here, it was still current… in fact perhaps we hadn’t even reached that stage yet but he had submitted a paper to us which he was required to speak to in Committee. It was against the established rules of the Forum to take such matters to an outside platform before the matters have been concluded. And unfortunately, he did this at a forum where His Excellency the President was present and the President was placed in an awkward position that he had to comment on this matter. So this case will also be referred to the Standing Committee,” said Chisanga.

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