The opposition UPND has announced that it will challenge the decision by Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini to suspend 48 of its members for 30 days without pay for missing President Edgar Lungu’s speech to Parliament.
In an interview, UPND Chairman for Legal Affairs Jack Mwiimbu explained that the MPs will take the matter to court as they believe that the Speaker acted ultra vires by suspending them for 30 days.
Mr Mwiimbu said the party will be seeking a judicial review to challenge the decision of Dr Matibini.
And UPND Parliamentary Chief Whip Garry Nkombo says posterity will judge Dr Matibini for his emotional decision to suspend 48 opposition MPs.
Mr. Nkombo has charged that the Patriotic Front wants to manipulate the Constitution in the absence of the UPND MPs.
Speaking at a press briefing at the UPND Secretariat last evening in Lusaka soon after the suspension, Mr. Nkombo said the suspension would not deter the MPs but that they would emerge stronger.
Mr. Nkombo reminded the speaker that the suspected MPs were elected members and not appointed or nominated.
“For now, it is 1-0 in favour of the Speaker but we are sure that posterity is going to give a judgment to the manner in which he has handled not only ourselves, it is the manner he has handled the country. It is not about an individual Member of Parliament, the manner he has handled the country today, the emotions he has displayed leaves much to be desired. But we stand firm and we will serve his suspension and this will not change us in a single bit. Instead it will emerge us even stronger,” Mr. Nkombo said.
“That’s how defective this ruling is, when you apply emotions to the decision. Posterity will judge the Speaker when that time comes and there is no hiding from that fact. We are people’s representatives, so as things stand, he will represent all of us in our constituencies, 48 of them. It should never be forgotten that we are elected Members of Parliament, elected not appointed or nominated, we are elected.”
Mr Nkombo who is the Mazabuka Central MP said the 48 were suspended because the UPND has refused to recognize President Edgar Lungu as Head of State.
“But we will take this issue as it comes because we stand resolute to tell the nation that even the issue which was itching in his ruling, the issue that came very very prominent…I think that based on his own imagination that the matter is squarely sitting on the square of recognition of President Edgar Lungu. It is a confirmation that is the matter which continues to keep PF scared of the truth. The truth has no disguise, the truth can germinate even on concrete, it is really just a question of time,” Mr Nkombo said.
He charged that the suspension was a planned move by the PF to manipulate the Constitution.
“We are convinced that the incarceration of our leader was all planned (i) because they knew there would be sparks there and so the easier way was to do what has happened (ii) and also we know that now we are sitting without the opposition. The function of the opposition political party is to provide checks and balances, the country has heard from time to time how the PF want to re-make the world. They have been advocating to change the Constitution over and over again. Countrymen and women, beware that when we go back after one month, we will probably find a totally different Constitution and if that happens, I think that the decision that was made today will be part of the posterity judgment,” Mr. Nkombo said.
He added, “They want to manipulate the Constitution, just a year ago they were celebrating in the stadium that they have produced a document that is going to stand a test of time and no sooner as we settled in the 12th National Assembly they started tinkering around with the articles of the same Constitution they were actually praising. Zambians beware they want to manipulate your document so that at the end of it all, it will not be a recognizable document.”
Mr. Nkombo also asked Zambians to open their eyes and watch how the country was being turned into a dictatorship.
“This is how dictatorship begins, this is how the dictatorship asserts itself. And for now maybe to also just say on behalf of all the constituencies that are represented by the members affected here is to say just be steadfast, we are coming home for a month, it will be such a joyful thing to be with yourselves,” he said.
“And finally it always a good thing to remember that when you are half way up, it means you are halfway down. UPND is holding half of the seats in this country. We can only appeal to all right minded people of this country to see what is going on, to see that the state institutions are being manipulated on a daily basis so that by the time they finish with us if they ever manage, there will be no country to talk about,” said Mr. Nkombo.
He also announced that the MPs will use the period of the suspension to go back into the constituencies and mobilise the party.