JUSTICE Minister Mulambo Haimbe has described the UPND government’s performance so far as exemplary, saying their achievements can speak for themselves.
And Haimbe says any person that is alleged to have breached the privileges of the House whether inside or outside can be summoned under the National Assembly Powers and Privileges Act.
But PF information and publicity chairperson Raphael Nakacinda has insisted that summoning him to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges and Absences is illegal.
In an interview, Haimbe cited free education and the channeling of recovered funds to bursaries as some of the UPND’s achievements.
“Exemplary. Well, because the things are there to speak for themselves that have been achieved in the six months period. They are so many, I even get tired, free education. But for me, one that is very close to the heart is the recent linking of the recovery of stolen assets to the direct well being of our people and in particular our students. I think a lot of detractors said the budget does not take care of the interests of students in terms of bursary and so on and so forth. But now with the policy direction that has been taken to say a portion at least of recovered assets will go to student welfare, I think that is a big plus. Because education is the bedrock of any society. So if we are talking about free education up to grade 12 and then tertiary education is being taken care of as we recover assets, to me that is huge, and then there are obviously several others. The impatience will be taken care of, because again you can’t expect to completely reverse 10 years of the wrong priorities and expect that in six months, we will get it right, it is impossible,” he said.
And commenting on Nakacinda’s refusal to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges and Absences on grounds that the standing orders did not apply to him, Haimbe said any person that is alleged to have breached the privileges of the House could be summoned, whether or not he was a member of parliament.
“So any person that is alleged to have breached the privileges of the House whether inside or outside is amenable to being summoned before the House under the National Assembly Powers and Privileges Act to be offered an opportunity to exculpate themselves. Any person is under the jurisdiction of the National Assembly whether inside or outside of the House. So a person who refuses to avail themselves can still have the committee sit and make a recommendation to the citizen on a manner in which the alleged breach of the privileges is to be debt with and can be sanctioned and punished by the House, especially if it falls under the realm of contempt of the House,” said Haimbe.
“So essentially the law allows for that. There have been some challenges, I am aware that for example the President, (Hakainde) Hichilema was summoned on more than one occasion in the previous session of the National Assembly. I am aware that there were challenges that were raised in court in relation to that. What I don’t know is what the outcome was. There have been several people who have been summoned especially to the bar, then they will be reprimanded by the Speaker. You don’t have to be an MP as long as you have breached the privileges of the House, you are amenable.”
But in a separate interview, Nakacinda insisted that summoning him was illegal.
“I have never been afraid of actions that are taken against me which are illegal. Our responsibility in this society is to make sure that correct things are done, justice is accorded to everybody. It is my right, first of all as a citizen, to freely express myself for the good of society and for the good of this country. In this case, the conduct of Parliament and the conduct of honourable, Madam Speaker, is of great interest to this nation. If at all our democracy is compromised particularly in Parliament, it is detrimental to the development of this country. You can’t have an empire or a referee who is also kicking the ball, then you have compromised the game itself. So to that effect, the complaint that was raised by Dr Kalila was based on standing orders of Parliament which I am not bound by those standing orders,” he said.
“They are meant basically to regulate the conduct of business in the House. The ones who are bound by those standing orders are members of the House and I am not a member of the House. I ceased being a member of that House in May of 2021 after the dissolution of Parliament. So to that effect, to summon me to go and answer to an allegation or complaint raised on those standing orders, if I comply, I am just perpetuating an illegality or an abnormality.”
He insisted that he was not under the jurisdiction of Parliament and was therefore not bound by the standing orders.
“If in Zambia here I don’t do or conduct myself in a manner that is in conformity with the rules in Zimbabwe, then Zimbabwe summons me, no! I am not under their jurisdiction. In this case, I am not under Parliament jurisdiction. As citizens, we should not allow anybody to use their privileged position to harass us, and in this case Parliament cannot begin to intimidate citizens of the Republic of Zambia. It should be the last arm of government to be seen to be interfering with the very rights that Parliament has conferred on citizens through the enactment of the existing [laws] that we had. So in this case I am not bound by those standing orders and therefore I shall not attend, I will be aiding an illegality and setting a bad precedent,” said Nakacinda.