YALI President Andrew Ntwewe has commended UPND MPs for their move to seek judicial review so as to have the punishment mated against them by the Speaker of the National Assembly reduced.
And Mr Ntwewe says the Speaker should have taken the current political situation in the country before mating out the harshest possible punishment as the move adds to the bad picture that is being painted about the country’s democracy and also qualify’s the allegation that Zambia as been turned into a dictatorial state.
Mr Ntwewe said in as much as the MPs deserved punishment for boycotting the official opening of parliament and the presidential address it was important to note that 30days was too much hence the move to seek judicial review was commendable.
He said the actions of the Speaker will stifle debate in the house .
“Upon critical perusal of the parliamentary standing orders no 72 which provides for punishment to be mated out we note with sadness that the speaker has mated out the harshest punishment possible to an erlring MP.
“We note that order No 72 provides three avenues, No 1 it provides 7day suspension, No2 it provides for the 14day suspension and 3 it provides for the 30 day suspension however we note that the speaker has chosen the harshest punishment and this is not good for democracy because we believe that MPs should be in parliament to debate and formulate bills that will have a positive bearing on the lives of people.
“In this situation we want to believe that the move is not good for our country’s democracy because the debate in parliament is going to be seriously compromised as it will be MPs from the governing party and if they are only MPs from the governing party that does not paint a good picture about our country,” he said.
Further Mr Ntwewe said the Speaker should have put into consideration current political situation in the country.
He wondered what the international community will say about Zambia’s democracy when they read that MPs from the opposition have been suspended while their leader is incarcerated.
“There should have been some humanity exercised when the speaker was mating out his punishment. The reason why we are talking about humanity or Ubuntu is that, the country right now is engulfed in serious political debate and there have been so much political tension from the 2016 election that Zambia is sliding in terms of democracy and respect for human rights and so the speaker should have taken a number of facts into account before mating out such kind of punishment.
“One has to take cognizant of the fact that the UPND MPs will be suspended while their leader is in incarcerated so what does that say about the country to the person who is reading about it out there? They will conclude that the country has indeed sliden into dictatorship,” he said.
On Tuesday Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibin suspended 48 UPND MPs as punishment for missing the presidential address to parliament.
The UPND through their Chairman for Legal Affairs Jack Mwiimbu said the will seek a judicial review challenge the decision by the Speaker.