SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has explained that only public media and one from the private sector were allowed to cover the ceremonial opening of Parliament on Friday, September 19 by President Michael Sata because of security concerns.
In his ruling to a point of order by Mazabuka Central UPND MP Gary Nkombo raised on September 23, 2014, Dr Matibini said the private media were also barred from covering the official opening of Parliament because the chambers could not accommodate all the 129 journalists that were accredited to cover the event from various media organisations.
Mr Nkombo had raised the point of order in relation to statements by Vice-President Guy Scott and Information Minister Joseph Katema regarding restrictions on some media organisations on the ceremonial opening of Parliament by President Michael Sata on September 19, 2014.
Mr Nkombo told the House that there were contradictions and inconsistencies between Dr Scott and Dr Katema on whose responsibility it was to bar the private media from covering the official opening of Parliament.
Dr Katema at a Press briefing had put the blame on the National Assembly for barring the private media, saying that it was the responsibility of the National Assembly to allocate seats to invited guests to the official opening.
Dr Scott on the other hand took responsibility on behalf of the Government over the barring of the private media and pologised.
But Dr Matibini said since the House was sitting as Parliament, which meant that the President and the Judiciary were present in the House, that state of affairs inevitably raised grave security concerns.
He said since the ceremonial opening of Parliament was also a State event, the approval of admission of members of the public and the Press in the assembly chamber was undertaken in close collaboration with State House and State security agencies.
Dr Matibini said the chamber could not accommodate all the 129 media practitioners who were accredited to cover the event.
“For this reason, and in the interest of State security, the coverage of the event was restricted to Government media and one private media,” he said.
Dr Matibini said the vast majority of the media organisations accredited were permitted to cover the event from outside the chamber, which was the presidential dais, the walkway leading into the assembly chamber and the media centre.
He said the event was also broadcast live on ZNBC television and Parliament Radio.
Later in response to another point of order raised by Mr Nkombo on the exhaustive and conclusive debate on the issue of the Constitution and Chief Chitimukulu’s installation, Dr Matibini said as far as procedures of the House were concerned, the two issues had been discussed at length by the House and “disposed of.”
Mr Nkombo, using Standing Orders 28 of the rules of the House wanted to compel the House to debate the issues of the Constitution and the Paramount Chief Chitimukulu exhaustively.
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