Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini yesterday reprimanded 54 UPND members of parliament and made them to apologise for not attending the official opening of parliament on September 30.
And UPND parliamentary whip Garry Nkombo says the opposition party will seek judicial review over the matter.
During the official opening of the 12th session of the National Assembly by President Edgar Lungu, the UPND lawmakers walked out of the House, citing continued harassment by state agencies like the Zambia Police Service of their party president Hakainde Hichilema and his Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, muzzling of independent media, among other ills.
Kabompo member of parliament Ambrose Lufuma was, however, disjoined from the matter as he was out of the country on parliamentary duty on the material day.
Jack Mwiimbu (Monze Central), Douglas Syakalima (Chirundu) and Nkombo were, too, disjoined from the matter as they had not been sworn in on September 30.
Making a ruling on the absence of the members of parliament yesterday, Speaker Dr Matibini said while lawmakers had the option of boycotting some parliamentary business in protest, such could not be done on the President.
“In considering the punishment to be meted out to the honourable members, the committee took into account the fact that the honourable members were first offenders. In this regard, the committee exercised leniency and resolved that the 54 UPND members of parliament be reprimanded…” Speaker Matibini said, before reproving in detail the opposition lawmakers.
“I now order Mr Garry G Nkombo, member of parliament for Mazabuka Central Constituency and UPND whip to stand behind the bar. I also instruct the Sergeant at Arms to take the Speaker’s Mace and go stand behind the honourable member. I further order the rest of the UPND members, save for honourable Jack J. Mwiimbu, honourable Lufuma, Mr Douglas Syakalima, to stand in place at their seats…”
Nkombo then proceeded to stand behind the bar to render an apology.
“I, Garry Nkombo, the member of parliament for Mazabuka Central parliamentary constituency, on behalf of honourable colleagues, who boycotted the sitting of the State of the Nation Address by His Excellency, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu on 30th September, which action I was a prime mover myself and so, I die with them…” Nkombo said with a distraught tone.
“Sir, I carefully reflected on the action by members and agree that it amounted to breach of rules and procedures of this House. In addition, and on their behalf, we have listened very carefully to your wise counsel and wish to assure you that in the future, far or near, we will abide by the rules and procedures of this august House. Mr Speaker, recognising your authority, on their behalf, we apologise. Thank you.”
And later in an interview, Nkombo said the party would seek interpretation from the courts on the matter.
“I think the way to put it as I put it there (in the House) that we are seeking judicial review on the judgment is premised on the fact that those of us who were exempted from the charge also belong to the same privileges committee that meted out the judgment the Speaker read. We have to see whether or not the committee misguided itself by ignoring the submissions of our lawyers,” explained Nkombo.
“We have got the judgment now in its correct form and submitted it to our lawyers and we are seeking a judicial review so that we can get a court interpretation of the way the committee proceeded.”