A dark shadow of hooliganism is hanging over Zambia’s parliament and efforts to discipline erring MPs by their political parties are not forthcoming.
For instance, it had to take quick action by Parliament security to prevent UPND Katombora MP Derick Livune from charging towards and physically attacking Finance minister Alexander Chikwanda while he was winding up debate on the motion to raise the debt ceiling which undoubtedly does not imply increasing borrowing or imprudent spending but allows government to meet its existing obligations while adhering to the prescribed limit in the law (Sunday Nation, February 28, 2016). Sadly the Katombora MP is not alone. This was not the first time UPND-related threats of violence had erupted in the chambers of Parliament and it would not be the last. In fact, hardly a week goes
by without reports of UPND lawmakers walking out of parliament in protest. Today parliament, which many once regarded as a unifying force in Zambia, is plagued by what appears to be a win-at-all-costs attitude, especially when debating contentious issues. Mischievously, the problem is even causing hardcore sports enthusiasts to suggest that a boxing gym and ring be erected at Parliament Motel where all aggrieved lawmakers could physically sort themselves out in a sport of boxing. Besides, they argue that Parliament has already got football and netball teams of male and female MPs respectively.
Aside from suggested boxing bouts at Parliament Motel, there should be better regulation from the National Assembly authorities to restrain MPs from throwing punches at political adversaries while in session in the chamber.
Parliament should be better policed and some argue that alcohol imbibing by MPs during break time should be banned, or at the very least properly regulated.
It is essential that the anti-violence message gets to every MP. The National Assembly Speaker must stop the MPs from acts of violence and the fanaticism and start to debate without resorting to violent behavior.
Dare one say, Parliament is for many a citadel of rectitude that unites political friends and foes, brings strangers together, provides a bastion for law and order and decorum for many. Violence should not come into it.
What is currently happening in Parliament is most unfortunate and most embarrassing. It is a happening that could never ever have been imagined in the late National Assembly Speaker Robinson Nabulyato’s days.