Compromised speaker

 

Article 63 of the Republican Constitution clearly stipulates that Parliament has a noble duty of keeping the Executive arm of Government accountable by overseeing it’s performance. It goes therefore without saying that MPs must be given ample leverage to probe the Executive and scrutinise it’s dealings without any prohibition. It is for this reason that Members of Parliament enjoy immunity in the House. It is therefore saddening to note that the Speaker of the House, Dr Patrick Matibini seem to have adopted a policy of curtailing debate whenever opposition MPs put the Executive in a tight corner. His Honor the Speaker must be aware that it is not his duty to shield the Executive from questions rather his role is to allow MPs to freely debate and question Government on all of its dealings. We want to believe that by curtailing debate whenever the Executive is put under pressure, Mr Speaker is putting his on integrity on the wire for the public is left to wonder where his loyalty lies; is it with the people or it is with the PF? We therefore urge his Honor the Speaker to desist from his tactic of curtailing debate whenever the Executive is held to account.
Opposition UPND Members of Parliament on Friday morning walked out of Parliament in protest against a ruling made by the Speaker Patrick Matibini against Mazabuka MP Garry Nkombo.
This was after the Speaker forced Nkombo to withdraw a question he posed following a Ministerial statement by Housing and Infrastructure Minister Ronald Chitotela.
In his question, Nkombo wanted to dispute Chitotela’s suggestion that the corruption the PF government has been accused of in the road sector was only perception without proven evidence, by reminding him that President Edgar Lungu is on record of having hinted on dismissing corrupt Ministers.
But before Nkombo could justify his argument, Dr Matibini interjected by advising Nkombo not to involve President Lungu in the matter before the House.
Nkombo responded to the Speaker’s guidance by saying he would then withdraw both his question and President Lungu’s suggestion that there are corrupt Ministers in government.
Dr Matibini, however, insisted by ruling that Nkombo does not involve President Lungu in his debate forcing the Mazabuka lawmaker to opt to withdraw the whole question.
It was after this ruling that UPND MPs decided to walk out of the House in protest.
This prompted Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo to rise on a point of order seeking the speaker’s ruling on whether Mr Nkombo was in order to leave the house in the manner he did.
Justice Matibini has since reserved his ruling on the Point of Order.

Antonio Mwanza, FDD Spokesperson

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