SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini on Tuesday told Choma Central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa that he should be the last person to complain about the deteriorating decorum of the House because he does not act any better.
Rising on a point of order, Mweetwa lamented that some PF officials like Community Development Minister Kampamba Mulenga, her labour counterpart Joyce Simukoko and Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo were damaging the National Assembly’s image with their derogatory running commentaries.
“Mr Speaker, I am rising on a point of order bordering on the decorum and the decency, respectability of this August House. Mr Speaker, my point of order is on the following members of this House and I am naming them in line with what honorable Tutwa Ngulube did to name those who had attended NDF here to preclude the perception that we can’t debate ourselves. Mr Speaker, my point of order is on honorable Joyce Nonde, honorable Mulenga Kampamba, honorable Tutwa Ngulube, honorable [Bowman] Lusambo, for purposes of this point of order but not exclusive to other members. You will agree with me that before 2016 elections, this House was a House of decency. When members stood to debate other members would listen and would go into a discourse of contestation of ideas. Ever since 2016 elections, Mr Speaker, you agree with me that it is very hard for anybody to project a decent debate because members, especially on your right led by these aforesaid would be running defamatory, demeaning, derogatory, unpalatable statements as if to turn this House like a political playground to such an extent that sometimes members are sometimes unable to deliver what they are here to do,” Mweetwa lamented.
“If you did a random perusal of your Hansard, you will find out that you have done more guidance in the last three years than you did between 2011 and 2016 trying to calm PF to be responsible. They have given you too much headache sir and me too! And I am concerned as a member of this House that the decorum of this House is deteriorating and my point of order sir is are these members that I have named, who just joined this House in 2016 in order to come and undermine the decorum of this House? ministers behaving not just like back benchers but like children!”
Speaker Matibini, however, guided him to withdraw the word children and he obliged, replacing it with “young people”.
“I withdraw, behave like young people, maybe at a school playground or drama club when we are in this important House. Are they in order to demean the decorum of this House to these levels where now members of the public when we go out there, they look at this House with low esteem all because of their misconduct. Are they in order Mr Speaker? I need your serious ruling behave the decorum of this House is what keeps this House going,” said Mweetwa.
But Speaker Matibini said Mweetwa’s point of order was shocking.
“I am perturbed by this point of order. Firstly, I think it is unfair and inappropriate to single out those three or four members of parliament, very unfair. The problem of running commentaries is a perennial problem. And ideally, the whips should be in the forefront in checking this particular problem. Secondly, you have raised a point about decorum and dignity, just on Friday, it was, it was on Friday, as recent as Friday. There was some disorder, admittedly and I was trying to manage that disorder for your benefit honorable member of parliament for Choma, for avoidance of doubt. I requested you to sit down and you refused, and by the time I restored order, you had walked out, I don’t know what dignity you added to the House. I don’t know what decorum you added. So honorable member of parliament for Choma, you should be the last person to complain and for the information of the House, there was a point of order raised in connection with your conduct, I reserved my ruling. And this is my ruling now, the matter is being referred to the Privileges Committee,” said Speaker Matibini.