SPEAKER of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini has failed to find UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka with a case to answer in a complaint where he was accused of threatening two UPND MPs against performing their duties in Parliament.
Dr Matibini was ruling on a point of order raised by Kanchibiya PF member of parliament Martin Malama on December 5, 2019, who wanted to find out whether Katuka breached parliamentary privileges when he was quoted in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper warning two UPND MPs that the party would deal with them because they did not walk out of Parliament as expected when Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 was tabled.
Dr Matibini said he failed to find Katuka with a case to answer as there was no substantial evidence that he uttered those remarks.
“Honourable members may wish to note that the point of order is based on an article that was published in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper on Thursday, December 5, 2019, under the caption I quote: ‘MP dares UPND to discipline him.’ Thus, in line with parliamentary procedure and in accordance with natural justice, the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to both Mr S. Katuka and the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper requesting them to confirm whether or not the statements alleged to have been made by Mr S. Katuka in the article were correctly attributed to him. The managing director of the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper confirmed that the alleged statement was correctly attributed by Mr S. Katuka as reported by Mr Steven Mvula, senior reporter, who talked to Mr Katuka in a telephone interview on the 4th December, 2019,” Dr Matibini said.
“In his response, Mr Katuka indicated that his party had a clear position about not interfering with the manner in which its members conducted themselves during parliamentary business. He further submitted that the party had also a clear position regarding certain Bills presented to Parliament without usurping the powers of Parliament. He also noted that he was a former senior parliamentarian, who had served the Zambian Parliament for the period of 10 years. Mr S. Katuka concluded by saying that the article in the Zambia Daily Mail was a misinterpretation of his interview with the newspaper.”
Dr Matibini stated that the failure for the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper to provide the recording of the interview constrained him from holding Katuka culpable of threatening the members of parliament.
“Honorable members, it is self-evident from the foregoing that the responses by the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper and Mr Katuka are conflicted. In order to resolve these conflicts of versions, the Officer of the Clerk wrote to the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper requesting for the copy of the recording of the interview with Mr Katuka. In response, the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper informed the National Assembly, through the Office of the Clerk that the recording had been inadvertently deleted, but still maintained that the article was factual. Honourable members, Since the point of order was based on a statement allegedly made by Mr Katuka, which the newspaper alleges was obtained through an interview and the said interview cannot be accessed, in order to verify whether or not the statement was correctly attributed to Mr Katuka,” said Dr Matibini.
“It was difficult to arrive at a firm conclusion that the article was accurately attributed to Mr Katuka. Moreover, Mr Katuka alleged that the article was a misinterpretation of his interview with the newspaper. The recording of the interview, whether audio or video, would have certainly supplied conclusive evidence, not only that Mr Katuka was interviewed by the Daily Mail newspaper, but would have also established the context of the interview. In the absence of such independent and cogent evidence proving that, indeed, Mr Katuka made the statement, I am constrained in holding Mr Katuka culpable of threatening the honourable members as alleged. Consequently, I am unable also to conclude that Mr Katuka breached the members privilege.”