OF THE SPEAKER AND THE HOUSE

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OF THE SPEAKER AND THE HOUSE

By Ackim Katebe

I have been a follower of parliamentary debates for a long time now since the time I had worked at Parliament, albeit for a short time.

I can talk of a lot of great debtors we have had in the past and I can as well talk about the presiders who were great.

Looking at our Parliament, where we stand as at now looking at where we are from, I can tell you that this is the worst Speaker in the history of our Parliament to have ever presided over that house together with her deputies, and these are problems.

When we raised a red flag for appointing a known UPND supporter to an impartial role of a speaker, it’s such issues we were trying to avert.

As the speaker of the National Assembly, your role is to preside over parliamentary proceedings and ensure fair play among members of Parliament, but with this speaker that is not the reality.

When I say this is the worst presider, it is not because I lack a word in the Queen’s language to call her for what she has so far shown, I mean just that. To qualify my claim, let’s consider these qualities;

Impartiality: As a Speaker, one is supposed to maintain impartiality by treating all members equally, regardless of their political affiliations. Your decisions should be based on parliamentary rules and procedures, not on personal or political biases. This is not the case with Madam Nellie Mutti.

Enforce Rules: Be well-versed in parliamentary rules and procedures, and consistently apply them. Ensure that members follow the established rules of debate, speaking time limits, and order in the chamber.

Facilitate Debate: Encourage constructive and respectful debate. Allow members to express their views and engage in discussions while ensuring that the debate remains civil and focused on the issues. Today Hon. Kangombe was stopped from debating even before he debated, he was merely building to his point yet he was stopped. This is not the only case, there plenty examples I can cite.

Maintain Decorum: Uphold the decorum of the chamber by preventing disruptions, personal attacks, and any behavior that undermines the dignity of the Parliament. In our Parliament, when the opposition Member is debating, the rulling members pass comments and it is all ok with the speaker but if roles are reversed it becomes a problem for her.

Balance Speaking Time: Allocate speaking time fairly among different political parties and individual members to ensure that all voices are heard.

Respect for Minority Views: Ensure that minority views and opposition voices are respected and given the opportunity to be heard, even if they differ from the majority.

Decisiveness: Make timely and firm decisions when disputes or breaches of parliamentary rules occur. Your decisions should be based on the principles of fairness and parliamentary tradition.

Protect Parliamentary Privilege: Safeguard parliamentary privilege, which allows members to speak freely in the chamber without the risk of legal action. This is crucial for open and robust debate.

Transparency: Be transparent in your actions and decisions. Clearly communicate your reasons for making specific rulings or taking certain actions.

Consultation: Consult with parliamentary leaders and members when making important decisions that affect the functioning of the assembly. Seek consensus whenever possible. The PF MPs were never consulted on the issue of the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament yet she expects peace.

So when I say this is the worst, it’s because of the highlighted pointers that I feel are lacking and will bring anarchy in the house of the highest order that this country has never witnessed.

Democracy should not just be talked about when it suits the occasion, it must be seen in how we deliberate national matters

This Speaker has gone to every length to stifle opposing voices so much so that every other day, there is a member from the opposition who is told “seat down”, “get out of the house”, just like that. Debates are nolonger enjoyable to watch and listen to because the debates are one sided.

If nothing is done, I foresee a crisis coming our way in that house.

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