30th June, 2014
The Speaker of the National Assembly
Re: RULING ON THE POINT OF ORDER RAISED BY THE HON DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIR, MR. GABRIEL NAMULAMBE, MP, ON AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE DAILY NATION NEWSPAPER VOL. 3, ISSUE NO. 703 DATED 6TH MARCH, 2014 ENTITLED “SPEAKER ABROGATING CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY”.
I have been trying to digest the ruling you made relating to the subject above.
I find your ruling unfair, intimidating and tantamount to an infringement on article 20 on freedom of expression as enshrined in our working Constitution.
While I agree with you that freedom of expression is not absolute but I find solace in your defense against the State in the case of Attorney-General v Clarke (2008) AHRLR 259 (ZaSC 2008).
As learned counsel for the Respondent you argued that; the right to support or criticize governments and politicians is fundamental to the democratic way of life and the freedom of speech and expression and is one which cannot be denied without violating those fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of civil and political institutions.
You also submitted that on this ground by saying that expression of views which may be unpopular, obnoxious, distasteful or wrong, is nonetheless within the ambit of freedom of speech and expression, provided there is no advocacy of/or incitement to violence or other illegal conduct.
To emphasize your position you even cautioned the State that stifling of the peaceful expression of legitimate dissent today may result inexorably in the catastrophic explosion of violence some other day.
There are three (3) arms of Government including Parliament which you are in charge of. As such, you cannot insulate yourself, as a Speaker, from criticisms like you rightly extrapolated in the case that you defended gallantly.
I wish to submit that all public workers, including the heads of the 3 arms of Government, are answerable to the citizens who give them the opportunity to serve them. Therefore, they (citizens) have a right to express their opinions, positive or negative. It is however, regrettable that such opinions are only graciously accepted if they are positive other than on the contrary like I did in my article published by the Daily Nation.
I still stand on firm ground to challenge you to resign if you find that you cannot execute your duties as a Speaker according to the powers vested in your office by the Constitution to hold the Executive and the rest of the members accountable in Parliament like when you expressively said you can’t compel the executive to discuss the issue of the draft Constitution when the other members of the House were demanding for answers on the issue. This is my informed opinion which I deserve to hold.
Born from a politician, I have been a kin follower of issues of Governance including Parliament and I am witnessing to such antagonism between the citizens and the Speaker for the first time. Indeed this can be attributed to a number of reasons. In my view democracy is maturing in Zambia and threats of prosecutions for expressing an opinion will not do. Some of us would be rather be prisoners of liberties than prisoners of conscience.
I hope you will find my views worth of your consideration to even be more firm in leading the House on behalf of the citizens because at the end of the day we bring the person of who we are to the offices we hold.
I wish you well and God bless.
The Zambian Voice