Parliament has its own internal proceedings not amenable to any court of law- Speaker
Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini yesterday said Parliament is an autonomous institution which has unique freedom to debate and deal with own internal matters independently.
Dr Matibini said under the separation of powers, Parliament is given freedom to debate matters and does not get orders from any institutions hence the House was free to observe its own rules and procedures.
This was in his ruling to a point of order raised by UPND Monze Member of Parliament (MP) Jack Mwiimbu regarding the removal of legal immunity of former President Rupiah Banda.
This was shortly after Clerk of the National Assembly Doris Mwinga read the order of the day in which Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba was to present to the House the motion of removing legal immunity of Mr Banda.
But Mr Mwiimbu, asked Dr Matibini for guidance because the motion at hand was a subject of a court injunction which was served to the Clerk of the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.
He said on various foras, Dr Matibini categorically stated that no matter before the Courts of Law should be discussed in Parliament.
“The Office of the Speaker said once a matter is in court, your hands are tied and can’t do anything until such matter is resolved in court.
“When the matter is before High or Supreme Court, we shouldn’t discuss it,” Mr Mwiimbu said.
He said the motion to remove Mr Banda’s immunity was taken to court and wondered what powers MPs had to debate over the motion.
“The motion being discussed is a subject of litigation and we feel we shall not be in a position to debate the matter since it’s before the court,” he said.
He argued that members found it hard to debate on the motion before the courts.
But Dr Matibini explained that Parliament was an independent institution and does not get orders from any other institution hence was free to observe its own rules and procedures.
He said the court documents served to the Clerk of National Assembly could not apply to the House because it currently enjoyed freedom to determine its own matters in the spirit of separation of powers through its Standing Orders.
Dr Matibini said Parliament had its own internal proceedings which were not amenable to any court of law and it was at this point that he called upon Mr Kabimba to move the motion.
At this point, several opposition MPs raised on points of order wanting to get more clarifications from Dr Matibini arguing that they could not debate the matter before the court and that the motion should have been brought to the House by the Head of State.
After a lengthy argument, Dr Matibini suspended the House for 15 minutes for consultations but the period clocked over an hour and when he came back, he told the members that his position was that the motion should be tabled in view of his earlier explanation.
He said a number of opposition MPs who have been expelled from their parties were currently still in the House because he had guided that the matters could only be determined after the courts had discharged them.
MMD Chembe MP Mwansa Mbulakulima and his Nalikwanda counterpart Geoffrey Lungwangwa disputed Dr Matibini’s ruling in their points of order.
MMD Sinda MP Levy Ngoma said the members had been abused by the Office of the Speaker and after that they all walked out of the House.
After continually pressing for further explanations from Dr Matibini, the MPs around 17:07 hours walked out of the House leaving almost all their seats empty to the surprise of their PF counterparts.
They assembled within the main passage of the House and held a caucus meeting.
Security officers from the National Assembly also sealed off all doors and could not allow anybody to walk out of the premises.
A heavy presence of armed police officers in full riot gear also came to Parliament gates as some of Mr Banda’s sympathisers attempted to break the National Assembly gate.
Earlier, UPND Kalomo MP Request Muntanga rose on a point of order on why there was a heavy presence of paramilitary which he said were intimidating the law makers.
In his ruling, Dr Matibini said the measures were constituted because of reports that some cadres had wanted to come to Parliament to create confusion in view of Mr Banda’s immunity motion.
“Obstruction is not the best thing we should do and I think I am being very diplomatic and this is an august House and we need to respect the dignity of this House,” The Speaker said in reference to opposition MPs who kept on raising obstructing ZNBC cameras.
Dr Matibini later allowed Mr Kabimba to move the motion in the House and later when the motion went to a vote, opposition MPs who were recently appointed to ministerial positions voted with the ruling party for the motion.