Opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has come out strong on Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini labelling him as a Patriotic Front cadre not fit to preside over Parliament as Speaker.
In an interview where he was reacting on the happenings in the House, Hichilema charged that Dr Matibini was mishandling parliamentary business.
“He is basically a disgrace to the people of Zambia because of the way he is managing Parliament. He is short-changing the citizens because that is Parliament that is supposed to be a strong and independent arm of government but it is not because of lack of leadership from Speaker Matibini. Why am I saying so? Dr Matibini is failing to provide leadership in that house. He allows PF MPs to start singing there ‘Lungu ngatalipo’ inside that house. That is unacceptable! That house should not be abused or be used for praise singers for Lungu,” Hichilema said.
“That is not the role of Parliament. Parliament is a people’s parliament and not a PF parliament. This is not a one party state under the PF. [Dr] Matibini should not have allowed that nonsense. I call it nonsense consciously. That thing of ‘Lungu ngatalipo’, that’s absolute absurdity and nonsense in that Parliament. It is a reflection of the incapability of the Speaker. This joking and basically laughing around in that house that [Dr] Matibini is doing and no seriousness is unacceptable. That is why he allowed Lungu’s visit to be treated as a political rally platform. You can’t use the Parliament that belongs to 15 million people in that manner.”
He said Dr Matibini was gagging independent voices in Parliament as he mostly snapped at opposition members of parliament whenever they tried to question government.
“If the question is not clear and an opposition MP tries to seek clarification, he will be protecting the PF MPs in that house. That is not the job of the Speaker. We are very unhappy with the mediocre leadership of [Dr] Matibini in that house. He also likes meting out punishments on opposition MPs, curtailing their freedoms, dishing out punishments like he did to warn MPs for exercising their right not to listen to President Lungu’s empty speech. Even last time, he (President Lungu) went to give an empty speech. He was talking about creating a million jobs. He has no capacity to do that,” Hichilema said.
“He goes in Parliament and gives them an empty speech. MPs refuse to listen to him and [Dr] Matibini punishes them? Doesn’t he observe what is going on in South Africa? Doesn’t he see how the South African Parliament is vibrant? He should learn something from there and stop acting like a cadre. He is there protecting PF as if his job is to protect PF, no! His job is to facilitate debate. So, [Dr] Matibini is not fit to sit in that house as Speaker, absolutely not.”