SPEAKER of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini yesterday directed that First Lady, Mrs Esther Lungu, should not be dragged into Parliament discussions.
Meanwhile, Local Government and Housing Minister Stephen Kampyongo told Parliament that the 2015 and 2016 Constituency Development Funds (CDF) have not been disbursed because of the many economic challenges the country has faced among which was the low revenue inflow resulting from low copper prices.
Mr Kampyongo‘s statement on CDF was followed by a question from Mbabala UPND Member of Parliament Ephraim Belemu who wondered why Government could not convert the Presidential Market Initiative Fund, Social Cash Transfer and the resources used by First Lady’s country wide tours into CDF. But Dr Matibini immediately provided guidance that Mr Belemu should immediately stop and not drag the First Lady’s name into the discussions of disbursement of Constituency Development Funds.
Mr Belemu said the programmes which were being implemented by the Patriotic Front (PF) government such as the Presidential Market Initiative Funds, the Social Cash Transfer and the First Lady’s donations served the same purpose as that of CDF.
He (Belemu) had asked Mr Kampyongo, in a follow up question to his ministerial statement on disbursement of CDF, as to why Government could not prudently convert resources for such programmes into CDF unlike attributing the failure to economic challenges.
But the Speaker stopped Mr Belemu and urged him to avoid discussing the First Lady as she was not part of Parliament to defend herself.
“Hon. Member, please let us not drag Mrs Lungu into this discussion.
“Let’s discuss issues which are within our physical vicinity,” Dr Matibini said.
Mr Kampyongo said the release of the 2016 CDF allocation to constituencies remains a national priority to Government in spite of the challenges that the nation faced, in particular the fiscal space,” Mr Kampyongo explained.