Speaker under pressure over Chiluba

Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwaambwa is reportedly under pressure to immediately convene parliament to restore former president Fredrick Chiluba’s immunity.

Sources at Parliament have told the Watchdog that the speaker has problems convening parliament because of the way the demand has been made.

Chiluba’s lawyers Simeza Sangwa and Associates wrote to the speaker on Tuesday for him to convene parliament.

They stated that ‘we act for Dr Chiluba who has instructed us to contact you in connection with the above stated subject matter.

“Our reading of the National Assembly resolution together with Article 43 of the Constitution would appear to suggest that the removal of our client’s immunity was not infinite as its scope was limited to prosecution for offences alleged by late president Mwanawasa in his address to the National Assembly,”

Speaker Mwanmwaambwa

Speaker Mwanamwaambwa

But the Watchdog has been informed that the speaker considers the letter an insult to the supremacy and independence of parliament.

Sources say that the speaker is not obliged to act on or respond to instructions from people who are not MPs on matters of this nature.

But, according to sources, the government is preparing to convene parliament as per request of Chiluba and the speaker is being pressured by government.

The speaker’s position is made complex by the fact that a few weeks ago, a lawyer in the name of Wynter Kabimba wrote to the speaker on the ill-fated motion to impeach president Banda.

The speaker did not even respond to that notice.

Instead it was the MMD chief whip Vernon Mwaanga who the use of a law firm to impeach a sitting president was wrong, according to the Article 37 of the country’s constitution.

Mwaanga said it was wrong for the opposition to use a lawyer to present a notice of impeachment, saying it was only lawmakers who are supposed to do so and not “outsiders”.

Wynter Kabimba may be watching the proceedings with keen interest.

Chiluba’ spokesperson when contacted said that ‘we have just notified the speaker that there is this matter and how he deals with it is up to him.’

But according to the letter written to the speaker, Chiluba is very specific on how he wants parliament to proceed.

“If convening the House at short notice will pause logistical difficulties, we would instead request that you table the matter before the standing orders committee, which in turn will report to the National Assembly its decision for ratification. We hope you will accord this matter the urgency it deserves considering that we are dealing with accrued constitutional rights of a former head of state. We await your urgent response,” reads the letter.

And  Maxwell Nkole, chairman of the Task Force has maintained that Chiluba should not be given his immunity because he is still under investigations.

“Dr. Chiluba was being tried on a crime involving half a million dollars. We even have an investigation against him where he is a participant in the loss of $20 million where he is accused of purchasing arms for the Republic of Zambia which have never been delivered… I really do not see how anybody can be asking for lifting of immunity at this point in time when in fact we have outstanding investigations against him,” he said.

Nkole said former President Chiluba is also being investigated for eight and a half million dollars from Canadian suppliers which had been approved by the former president.

He also said former President Chiluba has yet to account for funds from the privatization of the Zambian Copper Mines.

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