The Zambian Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini, who was imposed on the House by President Michael Sata’s ally Fred M’membe, is adhering to strict instructions from his masters to restrict debate by opposition members.
There is no doubt that Dr Matibini was imposed on the Patriotic Front by Post Newspaper owner Fred M’membe and eventually on parliament to direct debate only pleasant to the appointing masters.
Dr Matibini is doing just the right thing he was imposed on parliament for but MMD opposition members of parliament yesterday showed him the House was not the preserve of the privileged few when they walked out.
Dr Matibini is one of the many constitutional office bearers that were appointed to serve Zambia with special instructions from the PF chief propagandist M’membe.
Director of public prosecutions Mutembo Nchito, Attorney General Mumba Malila, Solicitor General Musa Mwenya, Acting Chief Justice Mwelwa Chibesakunda and Acting Deputy Chief Justice Florence Mumba are all under close supervision from M’membe.
Dr Matibini is operating under strict instructions to frustrate debate challenging President Sata’s administration. And on Wednesday, he executed a major assignment that brought business in the House to a standstill.
The former High Court judge, who has been M’membe’s personal lawyer on media related issues, unceremoniously stopped Kasempa MP Kabinga Pande from debating President Sata’s opening speech to parliament.
Pande’s argument was that the written speech and the one orally presented by President Sata were different in great measure and greatly disappointing to the country but was curtailed before further comments. President Sata presented a lot of jokes in his oral submission after failing to read the speech that was prepared for him.
Both the oral and written speech are recorded by parliament media with an audio recording available for reference and the MMD members are wondering which speech to dissect during the two weeks deliberations.
Led by party vice-president for politics Michael Kaingu, the MMD MPs walked out of the house arguing they were being restricted to debate after Pande was frustrated from making his point in debating the speech.
Matibini was forced to adjourn business of the day as only United Party for National Development (UPND) and Patriotic Front (PF) front and backbenchers remained dropping the numbers below the two-thirds threshold required for deliberations.
The walk-out was after Pande stood to debate President Sata’s speech but started by expressing his disappointment.
Dr Matibini, who earlier on Tuesday ejected Kaingu for shredding the same speech and later guided the members to debate the it substantively, stopped Pande from expressing his disappointment.
“They used to call our speeches as hollow but we all debated freely. Something has gone wrong because even our colleagues the UPND are being denied [police] permits to hold rallies,” Kaingu said after leaving the house.
When Pande was stopped, he sat down and before Dr Matibini could speak Kaingu and other MMD MPs stood up and walked out of the House amid cheers from PF members, ministers and some UPND MPs.
Kaingu and his MPs proceeded outside the building where they convened a caucus while their UPND counterparts remained inside the House as the debates briefly continued before adjournment.
Speaking to journalists shortly after holding the meeting, Mr Kaingu said his party members were being restricted in debating and could not express themselves freely in the House.
“This has been the darkest week in the House. Where is democracy?” he wondered. “…because we are being restricted to debate freely. This never used to happen to the PF MPs when they were in the opposition.”
Dr Matibini, however, implored members of the house to focus on substantive issues contained in the Presidents’ written speech should not be digressed by anecdotes the President made which were meant to provide light moments.
The MMD MPs are expected to attend today’s Parliamentary sessions but would give a comprehensive statement on the way forward.
Dr Matibini, who is proving to be more of a PF cadre speaker and understandably wants to please his masters, said the Head of State followed all Parliamentary procedures of handing over his speech and laying it on the table of the House.