Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini yesterday suspended Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo from parliament for 10 days on grounds that he exhibited gross misconduct against Deputy Speaker Catherine Namugala.
This follows a complaint letter from government Chief Whip Brian Mundubile who is also Mporokoso PF member of parliament, that Nkombo disrespected Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherin Namugala on the floor of the House on September 19, 2019.
“Honourable Mundubile’s letter of complaint was expressed in the following terms; Dear sir, complaint against Honourable Gary Nkombo, MP. We would like to draw your attention to the happenings of the 19th of September 2019 when madam First Deputy Speaker was chairing the house. Honourable Nkombo rose on a point of order and when advised to take a seat, he refused to do so and ended up challenging the chair to chase him which she did. Honourable Nkombo was speaking at the same time as Honourable Nkandu Luo was raising a point of order against his conduct. Before Honourable Luo could finish, Honourable Nkombo in an act of defiance to the chair, said he would not leave the House as it was not ‘her House.’ Mr Speaker, the Honourable madam First Deputy Speaker requested that he leaves the House which he momentarily did but quickly returned and took a seat in his usual place,” Dr Matibini read the complaint letter.
He said Mundubile also asked the speaker that Nkombo be suspended from the House for his conduct.
“Mr speaker, the conduct of Honourable Nkombo brought the House and the Honourable madam First Deputy Speaker into serious disrepute as he totally refused to leave but then started walking around the chamber much to the cheers of his fellow members of parliament. Mr speaker, in pursuant to the rules of conduct of the House, and particularly to do with challenging of presiding officers by honourable members of parliament in the House, especially in the manner the said member of parliament did, we write to request that Honourable Gary Nkombo be suspended from the House,” further read Mundubile’s letter.
Dr Matibini revealed that his office through the office of the clerk wrote to Nkombo requesting him to state his side of the story regarding the complaint.
In his letter of response, Nkombo denied the allegations as stated in the letter of complaint and contended that the content of the complaint was not a true reflection of what had transpired.
“The events of that evening are clearly not as how the government Chip Whip puts it (kindly refer to the footage and follow step-by-step how we got to the point of me being thrown out for the chamber). Suffice to mention to you madam that indeed I rose on a point of order to try and reclaim my slot on the debate list as a result of a point of order I raised. I did write a note to both the Speaker to advise me on whether it was possible to be reinstated on the list after Ikelengi and I got a response. I wrote another note to the clerks at the table and find attached their response advising me that my matter was being attended to. It was at that point when I sought further clarification when the speaker advised me to speak to the clerk at tea break, I suspect that she may not had been aware that I already had sought guidance from the clerks at the table at that point. I walked away voluntarily [and] just to find Honourable Nkandu Luo raising a point of order from my attempt to seek further clarification and indeed walked back,” Nkombo responded.
“And the only statement I made towards Professor Luo was that ‘stop what you are doing.’ And members of PF kept shouting for me to be chased and indeed I said it was not their parliament and that I was not there via their invitation. This was clearly not directed at the speaker.”
Dr Matibini said the committee on parliamentary privileges in its report submitted to his office after considering the television footage, verbatim record and submissions from the two parties, established that Nkombo openly disregarded Namugala’s guidance.
He said the committee despite noting that the offense committed was a grave one, it recommended that Nkombo be given a formal warning.
But Dr Matibini said he was not persuaded by his committee’s recommendation hence his decision to suspend him for 10 days from the National Assembly.
“For avoidance of doubt, the recommendations made by the committee on privileges, absences and support services do not constitute precedence, unless of course they are eventually adopted by the speaker and this House. Therefore, the committee errered in its decision making because it should have been guided by my ruling in the Chilangwa case and by this House. In view of the foregoing and in keeping with the precedent in the Chilangwa case, I have not been persuaded by the recommendation of the committee that Mr Nkombo bshould be formally warned. Therefore Honourable members, in declining the recommendation of the committee I have decided that Mr Nkombo be suspended from the service of the National Assembly for a period of 10 days beginning from today Tuesday 12th November 2019,” ruled Dr Matibini.