Speaker calls for closed-door meeting on constitution-making process differences

Dr Patrick Matibini
Dr Patrick Matibini

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has called for a closed-door meeting with representatives of backbenchers and Government to resolve differences over the constitution-making process.
He has also said that concerns about breach of Parliamentary regulations by some MPs was being dealt with.
This comes in the wake of disruptions of debate by backbenchers in the House for the second day yesterday. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday next week.
Dr Matibini told Parliament yesterday that the disruptions were “unprecedented” and “unfortunate”.
“It also goes without saying that in a democracy there are differences of opinion [and] one of the tenets of democracy is dialogue,” Dr Matibini said in urging the MPs to exhibit leadership.
“Both members on the left [backbenchers] and right [executive] are leaders. Zambians look up to us. So, the spirit of dialogue is key; it is absolutely essential,” Dr Matibini said.
He said this last night when Parliament resumed seating after another abrupt discontinuation earlier in the afternoon.
The Speaker was prompted to call for security to help restore order when some backbenchers attempted to walk over to the Speaker’s mace.
National Assembly security formed a cordon to keep the opposition MPs at bay.
The MPs defied orders by the Speaker to take their seats.
Dr Matibini said the backbenchers had broken their own rule which is Standing Order number 70.
“This conduct is disorderly. It is not permitted by our own constitution [Standing Orders]. It is clear there is a deliberate attempt to disrupt proceedings. I hereby order the Sergeant-At-Arms to remove the unruly MPs,” Dr Matibini said.
But the MPs refused to budge.
Clerk of the National Assembly Doris Mwinga and Sergeant-At-Arms Florence Mwanamakwa urged the opposition MPs to sit down but in vain.
“In earnest and sincere hope to restore order and decorum in the House, I suspend business,” Dr Matibini said as he stood up to leave the chamber.
The Speaker then went into a meeting with Vice-President Guy Scott and chief whips.
When Parliament resumed seating, Monze Central MP Jack Mwiimbu (United Party for National Development) raised a point of order and said: “We have decided that this process be given an opportunity to reach fruition under your able guidance Mr Speaker. On Tuesday, you will call for a meeting where this impasse will be resolved for the benefit of this House and the nation.”