Speaker Matibini is a disgrace to democracy

By George Lubasi

It is well known that Patrick Matibini was handpicked by the PF and its cartel members to become Speaker of our National Assembly.  As such, we do not expect much impartiality from him and he has proved us right in the past.

Matibini is the most educated Speaker Zambia has had so far. So whatever his shortcomings, they are not a result of incompetence (for he is highly educated), but purely because of the manner in which he was picked and the purpose his backers wanted him to serve on their behalf.

The proceedings of Parliament on Wednesday again exposed his bias and he must take responsibility for the confusion that occurred.  This article will show why.

Lubansenshi MP, Patrick Mucheleka, had asked a specific question on why the President and his ministers were issuing contradictory statements on the constitution-making process.  In response, Matibini ordered Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba to issue a Ministerial Statement to that effect.

Kabimba returned to the House with a statement that Garry Nkombo aptly described as “hollow”.

Matibini allowed Kabimba to answer a question no MP asked. The Technical Committee already announced that the draft Constitution was ready for handover in November last year. So there was nothing new that Kabimba was telling Parliament. Even more mischievous was his attempt to blame the Technical Committee for the confusion his government finds itself in over the Constitution.

If Matibini was a serious Speaker (or at least if he wants to be taken serious), he would have simply ordered Kabimba to go back and prepare another statement that answered the specific question Mucheleka asked. That is how the Legislature holds the Executive to account. Clearly, Matibini and his backers are not interested in that.

Instead, Matibini allowed Kabimba to get away without dealing with the core issue. Whereas Matibini was so permissive of Kabimba’s dereliction, opposition MPs refused to allow that and sought to take Kabimba to the cleaners.

What did Matibini do? He basically gagged the opposition and sought to direct proceedings in a manner that effectively allowed Kabimba to get away with murder. There was no need for Matibini to condition the opposition MPs into how they should question Kabimba.

Since the opposition were not happy with the manner Matibini (mis)guided the proceedings, they had a right to protest.

Attempts to portray the opposition as irresponsible are not only unfair but ridiculous.

So Matibini, despite his education and good credentials as a lawyer and judge, is certainly disgracing himself as Speaker.

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