SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini warned yesterday that any member of Parliament (MP) who absconds from the business of the House, including not asking questions on the order paper will no longer receive a sitting allowance.
Dr Matibini, who admonished opposition MPs for “disorderly conduct” in the recent past in the House, said that MPs who involve themselves in such behaviour will further be subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
“I wish to warn the House that with effect from today, any MP who decides to intentionally abscond from the House, including from asking questions on the order paper shall not receive an allowance and will further be subjected to disciplinary proceedings in terms of section 19 (e) of the National Assembly [Powers and Privileges Act Chapter12 of the Laws of Zambia],” he said.
Dr Matibini told Parliament that it is an act of unjust and illicit enrichment for an MP to draw a sitting allowance when they abscond from sittings of the House.
He reminded MPs that the sittings of the House are paid at a huge cost to the taxpayer and as such, citizens who voted for the MPs expect a lot from them.
Dr Matibini noted that MPs are paid allowances when they attend sittings of the House, when they attend meetings of the committees and when on parliamentary business within Zambia as directed by the Speaker.
Opposition MPs walked out of Parliament in protest after the Speaker ruled that he cannot force the executive to bring a Constitutional Bill to the House.
This was after Choma Central MP Cornelius Mweetwa rose on a point of order over Vice-President Guy Scott’s remarks on a television news bulletin.
Dr Matibini advised the MPs that he had a duty to preserve and follow the constitution of the House.
Opposition chief whip Garry Nkombo says the opposition MPs will not be held at ransom by sitting allowances.
“The Zambian people elected us to express their views and we will not rest until our demands are heard,” Mr Nkombo said.
Earlier, Agriculture minister Robert Sichinga announced that there is an outbreak of the African swine fever in Chief Macha’s area in Southern Province.
In a ministerial statement, Mr Sichinga appealed to stakeholders including chiefs and MPs to help fight the African swine fever and warned that there will be stern action against traders illegally bringing pigs to Lusaka.