By Antonio Mwanza, FDD Spokesperson
Article 63 of the Republican Constitution clearly stipulates that Parliament has a noble duty of keeping the Executive arm of Government accountable by overseeing its performance. It goes therefore without saying that MPs must be given ample leverage to probe the Executive and scrutinize 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.
It is extremely unfortunate that Given Lubinda, a man who is supposed to be a standard bearer of justice and fairness has opted to defend the barbaric and uncalled for behavior of PF cadres who were unleashed by the PF to intimidate and humiliate Madam Linda Kasonde for simply discharging her duties as President of the Law Association of Zambia.
Mr given Lubinda by virtue of his position as Minister of Justice to which LAZ by default belong, as an institution which was established by an Act of Parliament must have come to the defense of LAZ and condemn those cowardly acts of aggression exhibited by the PF cadres. It is actually embarrassing that the man has opted to pander against sound judgment and expected behavior from a man holding such a respectable public office.
This is one of the various reasons why Zambians wanted Ministers to be appointed outside Parliament to ensure the separation of powers and independence of thought in the manner Cabinet Ministers run the affairs of the state.
It is clear that Mr Lubinda has adopted a position that will put him in good standing with the PF leadership since they are the ones who organized and sponsored that attack on Madam Linda.
I mean we all remember that not so long ago, Davies Mwila, the PF Secretary General publicly declared “war” against Madam Linda Kasonde and that is the first sign of the “war”. If you ask the majority of those brothers of mine who were protesting why they were protesting, they will not even be able to explain; they don’t even know what the acronym LAZ stands for or who Ms Linda Kasonde is or what indeed the mandate of LAZ is. They were just taken advantage of their poverty and they were abused for a fee.
Mr Lubinda knows very well that Ms Kasonde’s statements and actions are not from her personal stand point but are actually agreed upon positions by LAZ as an institution and that Ms Kasonde is nothing but simply the mouthpiece of LAZ by virtue of her position as President of the association.
We would wish to encourage Ms Kasonde and the entire LAZ leadership to remain strong and not to give in to intimidation and threats. The only thing that is needed for evil to reign is for good people to keep quite when wrongs are being committed by evil men.
We want those legal brains to remember that they went to school in order to be the light of society hence they should not give up on the people by succumbing to PF’s threats and intimidation. The God of heaven who sees the suffering and hears the mourning of his oppressed children will always protect those who stand for justice, He will always protect those who speak and defend the truth.