CLERK of the National Assembly Cecilia Mbewe says a total of 104 invited guests will sit in the two public galleries during the ceremonial opening of the first session of the 13th National Assembly tomorrow.

In a statement, Wednesday, Mbewe said President Hakainde Hichilema was expected to officially open the session which would run from September 10 to December 24, 2021.

She added that all members of parliament, defence chiefs and selected Judicial officers, led by the acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would be in the Parliament Chamber.

“I wish to inform members of the Press and the Nation at large that the Republican President, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, will on Friday, 10th September 2021, officially open the First Session of the Thirteenth National Assembly. This press statement is, therefore, intended to inform the nation of how the Ceremonial Official Opening of the First Session of the Thirteenth National Assembly will be conducted and, overall, how this first meeting of the First Session, which will run from 10th September to 24th December 2021, will be conducted. The Ceremonial Opening of the First Session of the Thirteenth National Assembly by the Republican President, Mr Hakainde Hichilema on Friday, l0th September, 2021, will be held under the following conditions,” read the statement.

“All Members of Parliament, defence chiefs, and selected judicial officers, led by the Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, will be in the Parliament Chamber; a total of 104 invited guests will sit in the two public galleries; up to 23 invited guests who include selected members of the diplomatic corp and Hon Madam Speakers’ guests will sit in the Diplomatic and Speakers’ galleries, respectively; and other invited guests, who include some Members of the National Management Committee of the United Party for National Development (UPND) will sit in the Amphitheatre and follow proceedings remotely.”

Mbewe said everyone entering parliament buildings would be required to wear face masks.

“With regard to Covid- 19 prevention measures, the following measures have been put in place: all persons entering Parliament Buildings shall wear facemasks; adequate facilities for sanitizing or hand washing will be available at all entry points and at strategic points in the Chamber and galleries; parliament buildings have been undergoing periodic fumigation and aeration; surfaces are consistently disinfected; all persons entering the premises will be screened as they enter Parliament premises; and the premises have been inspected by the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) and certified fit to host the event,” she said.

And Mbewe said five bills were expected to support the budget.

“Moving on to the Budget Meeting, the House is expected to sit from Friday, 10th September to Friday, 24th December, 2021. The Meeting will principally be dedicated to consideration and approval of the 2022 National Budget. The following business will also be considered: Motion of Thanks to the President’s address. The Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address will be debated from Tuesday, 14th September, 2021, to Thursday, 30th September, 2021. Suspension of standing orders, at an appropriate stage, a Motion to suspend the relevant Standing Orders will be moved to enable the House to sit in the afternoon on a Friday for the Budget Address. The following money Bills are expected in due course to support the Budget: Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Mines and Minerals Development (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and the Appropriation Bill, 2021,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mbewe said some MPs would be in the Chamber whilst others would join the proceedings remotely during the budget meetings.

“Back benchers will be expected to ask Ministers Questions for oral answer and Questions of an urgent nature. Hon Ministers are expected to issue Ministerial Statements in the House on topical matters. With regard to the venue and conduct of business for the Budget Meeting, the National Assembly will ensure that the mode of conduct of the business of the House is in compliance with the Covid- 19 public health regulations. In this regard, the House will continue to operate under the hybrid system, with similar arrangements as were implemented during the previous Parliament. Some Members of Parliament will be in the Chamber, while others will join proceedings remotely from other designated meeting rooms within parliament buildings,” stated Mbewe.