MEMBERS of Parliament alleged to have been expelled by their political parties but have challenged their expulsion in court must be allowed to attend Parliament until their cases are determined by the courts of law, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) governance advisor Isaac Mwanza has said.
Mr Mwanza charged that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Matibini,must allow those MPs because the amended Constitution allows expelled MPs to stay in the House until court determination.
“It is our understanding that, by Article 72 clauses 5 to 7, members of Parliament who challenge their expulsion from a political party cannot lose their seat unless and until such expulsion is confirmed by the court,” he said.
Mr Mwanza said Article 72 Clause 7 was instructive that a member of Parliament shall vacate their seat only when a court determined that the expulsion of a member by his or her party was justified. He said YALI therefore calls on Speaker Matibini to uphold and respect the Constitution with regards to seats of members of Parliament who have challenged their parties’ actions in expelling them, by allowing them to attend sessions of Parliament and enjoy all the rights and privileges as members until the courts make a determination of such members’ petitions.
“YALI has noticed that as opposed to the past where a Member of Parliament would be made to stop attending parliamentary business following an allegation by their party that one has either crossed the floor or has been expelled by his or her political party, unless the expelled members obtains some form of an injunction issued by the court, the amended Constitution as assented by President Lungu, allows members of Parliament who challenge their expulsion from their parties to remain MPs until the court makes a determination as to the validity of such an expulsion,” he said..
He called upon the courts to deal with such petitions expeditiously to avoid any delay which would not contribute to effective dispensation of justice. “Because of such changes in the supreme law, YALI would like to remind our judiciary that it does not have the luxury of time in dealing with petitions of members of Parliament which come before our courts,” he said.
Mr Mwanza applauded President Lungu for giving his assent to the Constitutional amendments, which now ensured that political parties do not unnecessary deprive the electorate of the right to be represented in Parliament as had been the case in constituencies where MPs had challenged their expulsion but were not allowed to attend Parliament.