BREAKING NEWS: 30 MPS SUSPENDED FROM PARLIAMENT
Deputy speaker of National Assembly Attractor Chisangano has suspended 30 PF MPs from the National Assembly for 30 days for breach of parliamentary privileges in accordance with section 22 Powers and privileges Act.
The ruling is in the wake of the behaviour exhibited by the MPs last year where they thronged the Chambers of the speaker in December last year disrupting business after their fellow nine PF members whose elections were nullified by the High Court were asked to leave the Chambers by speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti.
RULING BY THE HON MADAM FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER ON A POINT OF ORDER RAISED BY HON G G NKOMBO, MP, MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT AGAINST THE PATRIOTIC FRONT PARTY MEMBERS AND INDEPENDENT MEMBERS ON WHETHER THEY WERE IN ORDER TO MISCONDUCT THEMSELVES IN THE HOUSE, AND ON THE POINT OF ORDER BY HON M HAIMBE, MP, MINISTER OF JUSTICE ON WHETHER THE PATRIOTIC FRONT PARTY MEMBERS AND INDEPENDENT MEMBERS WERE IN ORDER TO REMAIN IN THE HOUSE AFTER
INTENTIONALLY DISRESPECTING IT
I order Hon B M Mundubile, Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for Mporokoso Parliamentary Constituency, to go and stand behind the bar of the House. I also instruct the Sergeant-at-Arms to take the Speaker’s mace and go and stand behind the Member.
I also order the following twenty-nine (29) Patriotic Front (PF) Members of Parliament to stand in their place wherever they are:
1. Mr S Kampyongo, MP;
2. Mr R K Chitotela, MP;
3. Mr R Mutale, MP;
4. Mr M F Fube, MP;
5. Mr E Daka, MP;
6. Mr N Chilangwa, MP;
7. Mr K Kabaso, MP;
8. Mr A Z Lubusha, MP;
9. Mr S C Chanda, MP;
10. Mr G Mwila, MP;
11. Mr C Shakafuswa, MP;
12. Mr P Twasa, MP;
13. Mr E Tembo, MP;
14. Mr Elias M Musonda, MP;
15. Mr Emmanuel M Musonda, MP;
16. Mr L Chibombwe, MP;
17. Ms M Nakaponda, MP;
18. Mr C A B Katotobwe, MP;
19. Ms K S Mulenga, MP;
20. Mr F R Kapyanga, MP;
21. Mr C C Kang’ombe, MP;
22. Dr A D Mwanza, MP;
23. Mr A Kasandwe, MP;
24. Ms M Mabonga, MP;
25. Mr G K Chisanga, MP;
26. Mr S Mushanga, MP;
27. Ms M Phiri, MP; 28. Mr C Chibuye, MP; and
29. Ms T E Lungu, MP.
Hon Members, the House will recall that on Tuesday, 30th November, 2021, when the Committee of Supply was considering Head 01 – State House, and Mr M Kafwaya, Member of Parliament for Lunte Parliamentary Constituency was on the Floor, Hon G G Nkombo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development raised a Point of Order. In his Point of Order, he inquired whether members of the Patriotic Front (PF) and some independent Members of Parliament were in order to misconduct themselves by converging in front of the Speaker’s Mace to express their displeasure about an issue. He further explained that the only permissible means for Members to express displeasure was by walking out of the House.
On the same day, when the Committee of Supply was considering Head 02 – Office of the Vice-President, Hon M Haimbe, Minister of Justice, also raised a Point of Order on whether the PF Party Members and some independent Members were in order to remain in the House after intentionally disrespecting it.
Hon Members, the Deputy Chairperson of the Committees of the Whole House, Hon M Moyo, MP, reserved his ruling on both Points of Order, to enable him study the matter. I have since studied the matter and wish to render a consolidated ruling because the Points of Order arise from the same incident.
Hon Members, the background to this matter is that on Tuesday, 30th November, 2021, Her Honour the Vice-President and Leader of Government Business in the House presented the policy statement for
Head 01 – State House. Thereafter, Hon B M Mundubile, MP, informed the House that the Yellow Book was showing that the mandate of the Republican President to discharge his constitutional function was derived from Articles 33 and 34 of the Constitution of Zambia Act No. 18 of 1996 of the Laws of Zambia. He explained that the said provisions were repealed and replaced by the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016. He, thus, submitted that the estimates of expenditure for State House were drawing their mandate from a non-existent constitutional provision. In that regard, he informed the House that there was need for the Yellow Book to be amended before members could debate the vote. He added that failure to do so would be a violation of the Constitution which Members had sworn to protect, and would result in members protesting. He concluded by seeking guidance from the Deputy Chairperson on the matter.
In response, the Deputy Chairperson stated that since Hon B M Mundubile, MP, had not risen on a Point of Order, he was actually debating the State
House vote. He then called upon the next Member to debate the vote. Hon B M Mundubile, MP, then rose and informed the House that he and other Members of the PF party and the independent Members of Parliament would proceed to protest to ensure that they were not party to the illegality. The members then protested by converging in front of the Speaker’s Mace. This resulted in the Deputy Chairperson adjourning business for twenty (20) minutes.
Hon Members, the Points of Order raise the following issues:
(i) a member causing an obstruction or disturbance within the precincts of the Assembly Chamber during the sitting of the Assembly or its committee; and
(ii) a member creating or joining in any disturbance which interrupts or is likely to interrupt the proceedings of the Assembly or its committee.
The National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Cap. 12 of the Laws of Zambia, provides guidance on both these issues. In that regard, section 19 (c) provides as follows:
Any person shall be guilty of an offence who-
(c) causes an obstruction or disturbance within the precincts of the Assembly Chamber during a sitting of the Assembly or of a committee thereof.”
Further, section 25 (f) of the Act provides as follows:
“25 Any person who –
(f) creates or joins in any disturbance which interrupts or is likely to interrupt the proceedings of the Assembly while it is sitting shall be guilty of an offence.”
From the foregoing authorities, it is evident that a member who causes or participates in a disturbance in the House commits an offence or a contempt of the House.
Hon Members, to ascertain which Members participated in the protest, I had recourse to a list compiled by the Office of the Clerk. A scrutiny of the list revealed that contrary to the allegation that some independent Members of Parliament had participated in the protest, only PF members participated in the protest. The PF Members identified as having participated in the protest were thirty-seven (37).
In line with parliamentary practice and procedures and the rules of natural justice, the Office of the Clerk wrote to all the identified Members requesting them to explain why they should not be found in breach of parliamentary privilege and contempt of the House for participating in the protest.
From the outset, I wish to state that five (5) of the Members who took part in the protest have since been barred from participating in parliamentary business following a ruling rendered by the Hon Madam Speaker on 7th December, 2021. These are Mr B C Lusambo, MP, Mr L Simumba, MP, Mr M Kafwaya, MP, Mr T Chewe, MP, and Mr J Malanji, MP. They are, therefore, excluded from this ruling.
Of the remaining thirty-two (32) members, thirty (30) responded through a single letter from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition signed by all of them. Two (2) members, Ms J Nyemba, Member of Parliament for Chifunabuli Parliamentary Constituency, and Dr C Chilufya, Member of Parliament for Mansa Central Parliamentary Constituency responded individually.
(i) Response by 30 PF Members of Parliament through a Single Letter from the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
The Members submitted that the Points of Order were centred on the enjoyment of their fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of Zambia vis-à-vis the Privileges of Members of the House. They explained that their protest was caused by an attempt by the Executive to bring for consideration a Head of Expenditure which was based on a non-existent constitutional provision. They added that the situation was worsened by the Presiding Officer’s decision to ignore this important constitutional issue once it was raised by the Leader of the Opposition. They emphasised that the protest happened within the Chamber and was intended to ensure that the House debated Head 01 – State House without abrogating the Constitution. They, further, submitted that debate on the Head proceeded after the correction sought had been effected. This, they said, negated the need for any sanctions to be meted out to them for upholding the Constitution.
Additionally, the Members submitted that Members of Parliament reserved the right to protest when displeased with the manner in which the business of the House was being conducted. The Members requested for judicial notice to be taken that the right to protest and subsequently walk out was effectively exercised by the United Party for National Development (UPND) when it was in the opposition. They added that no disruption was caused although the Deputy Chairperson, in his wisdom, decided to suspend business for a few minutes. They concluded that the alleged conduct did not in any way contravene section 19 (c) and section 25 (f) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.
(ii) Response by Ms J Nyemba, MP
Ms J Nyemba, MP, denied participating in the protest. She explained that, during the protest, she was in her designated committee room, Wesley Nyirenda, with Mr L J Simbao, Member of Parliament for Luanshya Parliamentary Constituency, and Mr M Chinkuli, Member of Parliament for Kanyama Parliamentary Constituency.
(iii) Response from Dr C Chilufya, MP
Dr C Chilufya, MP, denied participating in the protest. He confirmed that, on the material day, he had logged into the system from the Chamber, but left the Chamber before the protest began.
Hon Members, while the list compiled by the Office of the Clerk included Ms J Nyemba, MP, and Dr C Chilufya, MP, a review of the video footage revealed that, indeed, they did not participate in the disruption of the proceedings of the House. In that regard, I am satisfied that Ms J Nyemba, MP, and Dr C Chilufya, MP, did not participate in the protest and, consequently, disjoin them from this matter.
I now wish to address the House on the alleged misconduct.
Hon Members, while parliamentary practice and procedure permits Members to protest, the acceptable way of doing this is through walkouts. A walk out is where Members leave the Chamber or a Committee in protest without disrupting the business of the House.
The erstwhile Speaker, Rt Hon Justice Dr Patrick Matibini, SC, addressed the issue of walk-outs on several occasions. In his ruling on a Point of Order raised by then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon H Kalaba, MP, against Members of the UPND who walked out of the House on Friday, 27th
November, 2015 (National Assembly Parliamentary Debates of 18th September – 10th December, 2015, pages 3282 – 3284 he stated, inter alia, at page 3283 – 3284, as follows:
“Walk-outs, per se, do not amount to a breach of the Rules of the House or, indeed, parliamentary practice and procedure. In view of this, the Hon Members of the UPND were not out of order to have walked-out of the House.”
Hon Members, in the matter under consideration, the Members did not walk out of the Chamber, but, instead, converged in front of the Speaker’s Mace. This conduct, ultimately, resulted in a disturbance and the disruption of the business of the House, forcing the Deputy Chairperson to suspend business. I, therefore, find the 30 PF Members of Parliament who participated in the protest in the Chamber in breach of parliamentary privileges and in contempt of the House.
Hon Members, I now wish to consider the sanction to mete out to the 30 erring PF Members. I note that all of them are first offenders. However, I also note the gravity of the offence committed, which caused a disruption of the proceedings of the House. Additionally, the members, in their response, were neither apologetic nor remorseful for their conduct. In view of this, I wish to invoke the provisions of section 28 (2) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, which provides as follows:
“28. (2) Where a Member is found to have committed contempt of the Assembly of a serious nature, and none of the other penalties are sufficient for the contempt committed by the member, the Speaker shall, on the resolution of the Assembly, suspend the member from the Assembly for a period not exceeding thirty days”.
I now turn to address the 30 PF Members.
The House is extremely displeased with your gross misconduct of carrying out a protest in the Chamber and thereby disrupting the proceedings of the House. The dishonourable conduct diminishes the respect due to you as members of this august House. This is a House of honour, decorum and dignity, and as such, your conduct ought to be exemplary and above reproach. I wish to make it clear that I will not tolerate gross indiscipline and misconduct from you or any Member of this House. The honour, decorum, integrity and dignity of the House must be protected and preserved at all times. I do trust that you will reflect seriously on your conduct and, in future, refrain from conduct unbefitting of a Member of Parliament.
Hon Members, it is noteworthy that the committee responsible for assisting me maintain discipline in the House is the Committee on Privileges and Absences. In this vein, any member of the Committee that is found guilty of misconduct loses his or her seat on the Committee. To this end, Standing Order 190(6) of the National Assembly of Zambia Standing Orders, 2021 states as follows:
“190. (6) Any member of the committee who is found guilty of misconduct shall lose his or her membership to the committee.”
Hon Members, regrettably, among the protesters were Hon B M Mundubile, MP, and Mr C Kang’ombe, MP, who are members of the Committee on Privileges and Absences. Therefore, in accordance with Standing Order 190 (6), Hon B M Mundubile, MP, and Mr C Kang’ombe, MP, cease to be members of the Committee with immediate effect. The members to replace them on the Committee will be announced in due course.
Hon Members, in accordance with section 28 (2) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, which requires a resolution of the House to suspend a Member from the House, I now put the Question: The Question is, that the House suspends the thirty (30) Patriotic Front Members of Parliament that participated in the protest in the Chamber for a period of thirty (30) days.
As many as are of that opinion say ‘Aye’;
Of the contrary say ‘No’;
I think the ‘Ayes’ have it. [Pause]. The ‘Ayes’ have it. The question is resolved in the affirmative.
Hon Members, the suspension is with effect from today, Tuesday, 15th March to Wednesday, 13th April, 2022. However, with regard to Ms T E Lungu, MP, who is currently in the United Kingdom attending a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Seminar, the suspension is with effect from Monday, 21st March to Tuesday, 19th April, 2022.
Hon Members, before you take the walk of shame, I wish to inform you that in accordance with section 28 (3) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, during the period of your suspension, you shall not:
(i) enter the precincts of the Assembly, and this extends to the National Assembly Motel;
(ii) participate in an activity of the Assembly or any committee that you are assigned in, in your capacity as Member of Parliament; and
(iii) be paid the salary or allowance that you are entitled to as a member.
I now order you, suspended PF Members of Parliament, to immediately leave the proceedings of the House on thirty (30) days suspension. Those in the Chamber should leave through the Main Entrance of the Chamber. Those attending from designated committee rooms should immediately leave the committee rooms. Those logged into the proceedings via Zoom should immediately log out. I further instruct the ICT officers to ensure that all suspended members are logged out of the system.
I THANK YOU.
As many as are of that opinion say ‘Aye’;
Of the contrary say ‘No’;
I think the ‘Noes’ have it. [Pause]. The ‘Noes’ have it. The question is negatived.
I THANK YOU.
To be announced on: Tuesday, 15th March, 2022
Copies to: The Clerk
Chief Hansard Editor
WITHIN THIS PERIOD NOW IS TO BRING IN THE IMMUNITY POMPOLOLA ECL IS IT NOT SO?
Great News! Madam Chisangano, well done and really well delivered! You have put them ku wire for 30 long days.
In fact this number is too small compared to 54 that Matibini suspended. Can the the speaker add 24 to equalize? Kikikikiki. Insoka yanwa ubwalwa.
This a good signal that Parliament is not Soweto market.
There are too many important issues affecting our nation and if Parliament which claims to be a representive of Zambian people continues with this careless behaviours and vindictive tendencies this nation is doomed to fail Let Parliament rise above petty issues and address the economy health and many pressing issues than waste time on unprofitable business