By JAMES KUNDA –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu is optimistic that parliamentary business will continue normally despite the suspension of 48 United Party for National Development (UPND) members of Parliament (MPs) this week.
Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda said the Head of State was unfazed by the development, and was grateful that there was no disruption of the order of business in the House.
Mr Chanda told journalists in Lusaka on Wednesday that it was baseless to speculate that Mr Lungu instigated the decision by Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini to suspend the 48, as the Executive operated independently of the Legislature.
He said the Executive could not be blamed for the consequence of negative actions by members in the House, whether or not the Head of State was present.
Mr Chanda said President Lungu always regretted the misconduct of people disrupting the country’s democratic process.
“Parliament has taken action against the members who misconducted themselves and breached standing orders,” Mr Chanda said. “The President has no position on the proceedings of Parliament, and the Executive has absolutely nothing to do with the suspension of UPND MPs”.
Mr Chanda said the Executive, however, found it regrettable that after seeking the mandate of the people to Parliament, the suspended MPs sought to be mischievous.
He said it was surprising that the members wanted to continue receiving their emoluments even upon repetition of their boycott of President Lungu’s address to the House in March this year, for which they were suspended.
This, Mr Chanda said, was despite the members apologising and assuring Dr Matibini of better conduct after a similar occurrence at the official opening of the current session of Parliament by President Lungu last year.
“The growth of our democracy can only be assured when people begin to take responsibility for their actions – words must always have meaning and every action, consequences,” Mr Chanda said.
He cited the continued stay of Monze Central MP Jack Mwiimbu and nine others in the House as a benefit of using appropriate channels if a member sought leave from the proceedings.
Mr Chanda hoped that the suspended MPs would reflect on their actions and always abide by the mandate of representing the electorate.
Meanwhile, Mr Chanda said he was yet to receive a summons from the Lusaka magistrates’ court in which UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has allegedly jointly sued him, Daily Nation newspaper proprietor Richard Sakala and the institution for contempt of court.
According to Wednesday’s edition of The Mast newspaper, Lusaka magistrate Felix Kaoma allegedly ordered that Mr Chanda, Mr Sakala and the Daily Nation appear before him on June 27 this year.
The publication stated that Hichilema and five others, in the case against Mr Chanda, Mr Sakala and the newspaper, complained about a story headlined ‘HH acted foolishly’ published in the Daily Nation on June 1 this year.
The story was quoting Mr Chanda, featuring on an Al Jazeera programme dubbed the ‘Stream’ on May 30 this year.