UPND members of parliament walked out of the House, Friday morning, when corruption accused Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela stood to respond to questions posed by Nakonde PF member of parliament Yizukanji Siwanzi.
And Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala has ruled that the Executive was out of order for allowing another Minister to act as Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister when the substantive Minister was in the House.
The opposition members of parliament have continued to walk out every time Chitotela stands to address the House, a move which has led to Works and Supply Minister, Mutotwe Kafwaya acting on Chitotela’s behalf on most occasions during the Questions for Oral and Answer sessions.
Siwanzi asked whether government was aware that the poor state of the Nakonde-Isoka road often resulted into a traffic pile-up in Nakonde District, which included tankers carrying flammable goods, and whether government had any plans to rehabilitate the road starting from Nakonde.
In response, Kafwaya, who was acting minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, said government was aware that the poor state of the Nakonde-Isoka road often resulted in traffic congestion in the district.
He said to address the challenge, government appointed China Railway Seventh Group Company to carry out a full rehabilitation works of the road, which had started from Isoka.
Kanchibiya PF member of parliament Martin Malama, however, rose on a point of order, wondering whether the House was in order to allow another Minister to act when the substantive Minister was present.
In her ruling, Deputy Speaker Namugala guided the Executive that when a substantive Minister was present in Parliament, it was never allowed to act on their behalf.
She ruled that the Executive was out of order to allow Kafwaya to act as Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister when Chitotela was in the House.
“I will take advantage of that point of order to guide the Executive that when a substantive Minister is in the House, it is never allowed that somebody else can act. The idea of acting is because the substantive office holder is not in the House. And in this case that the honourable Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development is in the House, the Executive is certainly out of order to allow somebody else to answer the questions. With this ruling, I order that the following supplementary questions be addressed by the substantive Minister, who is now in the House,” Namugala ruled.
She then gave the Executive five minutes to organize themselves.
And before responding to the supplementary questions, Chitotela apologized for arriving late, saying he had gone to attend to medical problems.
“I want to apologize, madam, for coming in late; I had gone to attend medical problems,” Chitotela said before answering to some supplementary questions posed to him.
However, as Chitotela rendered his apology to Parliament, UPND MPs began to walk out in protest of him still holding public office amidst his corruption allegations.
But after he spoke, the UPND MPs returned to the House.
And when the House resumed sitting after a 20-minute break, the Deputy Speaker informed the House when another question on the order paper was directed to the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, that Chitotela had left the House as he was not feeling well.