MPIKA PF member of parliament Francis Kapyanga says it’s a source of worry to him that some National Assembly presiding officers not only debate matters but also defend the Executive.
Asked in an interview whether he felt members of parliament debated freely in the National Assembly, Kapyanga said not entirely, as some lawmakers were at times shouted at.
“I wouldn’t say entirely because at times members of parliament are shouted at, and at times we see some presiding officers indulging themselves in debate. At times we also see some presiding officers defending the Executive, which shouldn’t be the case and which is not even in fact [in] our standing orders. We shall soldier on because we don’t seem to record any changes and now, we have gotten used, we continue fathoming strategies that we will continue using to ensure we work effectively regardless of the environment. The presiding officers are there to just guide on debates and ensure that members of parliament at all times stick to our standing orders,” he said.
“We do not expect some presiding officers indulging themselves in debate and also at times answering on behalf of the Executive, that shouldn’t be the case. Our role is to [give] oversight to the Executive but of course in accordance with our standing orders. So, we expect presiding officers to stick to our standing orders and also members of parliament to stick to standing orders. But where you find some presiding officers answering on behalf of the Executive and also defending the Executive, it’s a source of worry’’.
Kapyanga said presiding officers should refrain from indulging themselves in debates.
“We are representatives of the people, [we] need to represent views of those we represent. They send us various views, some of which may not even sit well with the Executive, but that’s the nature of our jobs. We represent people with divergent views and it’s just important that our presiding officers distance or maybe refrain from indulging themselves in debates. Talking about the arrests of various members of parliament, it has just fortified them to represent their people very well. I have seen a number of those who have been arrested before, they have not been shaken. That’s when they are standing very firm to represent the views of the people who sent them to Parliament,” said Kapyanga.
“We are representing 19.4 million people, we have 156 representatives of the people, we don’t expect all of them to sing praises even where they are not supposed to. We expect divergent views because we have people on the Copperbelt who have divergent views on the coming back of KCM (Vedanta). We have people in Mpika who have views on the looting of gold, we have people in Luapula who have views on the arrest of their representatives. So it’s a matter of ensuring members of parliament play their role, there’s is an oversight on the Executive”.