NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili says the party will not sanction its Roan member of parliament Joseph Chishala for supporting the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 when he was instructed to vote otherwise.
Kambwili has however, said the party has engaged Church leaders in the constituency to speak to Chishala and convince him to change his mind by voting against Bill 10 whenever it is taken back to Parliament for second reading.
In an interview, Kambwili disagreed with former secretary to Cabinet Dr Skechley Sacika who recently said every political party had the right to expel a member of parliament who defied a party position.
Kambwili argued that expelling an MP for having a different opinion from that of their party on Parliamentary business was contempt of the house because MPs were protected by the National assembly to make independent decisions in Parliament.
“It is against Parliament, contempt of Parliament actually to punish a member of parliament for voting in a certain way. So NDC will not charge Chishala for not representing the party position in Parliament on Bill 10. But we will find a way of dealing with him. I have read what Dr Sacika said and I disagree with him. Dr Sacika has never been a member of parliament, I have been a member of parliament myself and I was once punished for trying to condemn some members of parliament for voting in a particular way when I was in the House. You cannot expel a member of parliament for voting in a particular way, even if you expel them, Parliament will not allow you because it’s illegal. Dr Sacika was misusing the provision of the law; you can punish a member of parliament for any other offence but not voting in Parliament,” Kambwili explained.
“Members of parliament are protected. But that does not mean we did not instruct Chishala to vote against Bill 10, we did. We had given Chishala specific instructions to vote against Bill 10. But when he goes and votes in a particular way, we cannot charge him that ‘we have given you an offence of going to vote against our wish in Parliament’, that can’t happen because the law protects members of parliament against any sanctions for voting in a particular way. So what Dr Sacika was saying is not correct.”
Kambwili explained that there were smarter ways of disciplining a member of parliament who disregarded party instructions.
“There are smart ways of doing these things; if a member of parliament has disobeyed the party in a way he has voted, you just watch him and let him commit another offence then you can expel him. But not expelling him for voting in a Particular way in Parliament, its contempt of the House. You can check the House and they will tell you, ask the Clerk of the National Assembly if you want or anybody, they will tell you that you cannot charge a member of parliament with an offence of voting against the party instruction,” Kambwili explained.
Meanwhile, Kambwili said the party had engaged Church leaders to speak to Chishala and have him change his stance on Bill 10 the next time it is taken to parliament for the scheduled Second Reading.
“We are engaging Honourable Chishala to think twice about his decision. We have even asked Reverends and Pastors, Priests to talk to him. Chishala said he was instructed by the community in Roan to vote against Bill 10, Priests and Pastors are part of the community because they are leaders. Chishala had a meeting with the Church where they told him not to vote for Bill 10. So in order to try and make him reason properly, we have asked these leaders to help us to talk to him to vote against Bill 10. Then we will engage him also as a party to try and make him reason, so that when the voting comes, he does the correct thing,” said Kambwili.