It’s criminal to desert Parliament, warns Speaker


IT IS a criminal offence for Members of Parliament to register their presence in the House for the sake of allowances  and immediately leave the Chamber, thereby obtaining percuniary advantage by false pretences, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini ruled yesterday.

And the Speaker yesterday ruled out of order UPND Monze Central Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu when he stormed out of Parliament last week after raising a point of order on whether the opposition’s freedom of movement had been curtailed on the Copperbelt.

Dr Matibini said members of Parliament who had a tendency of registering their presence and leave the House were committing an offence and on conviction liable to imprisonment of five years.

“As regards the specific practice of Hon Members registering their presence in the House and immediately thereafter leaving the Chamber and never return to the House for the rest of the day, such conduct is not only dishonourable and dishonest, but is also unbefitting of the status and dignity of an honourable member.

‘‘Worse still, this action is also tantamount to obtaining pecuniary advantage by false pretences contrary to section 309 A of the Penal Code Act, Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

“Consequently, I hereby and forewith direct the Clerk’s office to take note of any such members who merely register their names and pupport to be present, and yet abscond from the House, so that appropriate action may be taken without further notice or recourse to such members,” Dr Matibini said.

He said the practice of walking out of the House immediately after registering had the unfortunate tendency of denying the electorate their representation.

On Mr Mwiimbu’s conduct of storming out of the Chamber before he could render his ruling, Dr Matibini said the action was ‘‘utterly disrespectful’’ and a discourteous conduct not only to the Speaker’s office but also to the entire House.

“It is a conduct not expected of not only a senior member of the House and counsel, but also a member of the Committee on Privileges, Absences and Support Services charged with responsibility of, maintaining the discipline and decorum of the House,” he said.

On Wednesday, October 18, 2015, Mr Mwiimbu rose on a point of order relating to the alleged attack on UPND offices in Kitwe by suspected Patriotic Front cadres.

Before the Speaker could respond Mr Mwiimbu stormed out of the Chamber together with other UPND members.

Dr Matibini said in his ruling yesterday said that Mr Mwiimbu contravened rule 14 of the National Assembly Members’ Handbook, and accordingly was out of order.

Dr Matibini said rule 14 under Chapter 5 of the National Assembly

Member’s Handbook, 2006 under the heading ‘Conduct of Members of Parliament and Parliamentary Etiquette was instructive that members should not leave the House immediately after delivering their speeches in the House.

“This is to ensure that such a member personally receives the response from the chair or follows the debates of other members on the matter or subject that the member may have raised in his or her speech on the floor of the House,” he said.

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