Fred M’membe



The suspension of Mambilima PF Member of Parliament Jean Chisenga from Parliament for 30 days is drastic, biased, unjustified and exposes the presiding officers’ deliberate intent to undermine the principle of separation of powers by misusing the rules of the House to bully non-ruling party legislators.

This week, first deputy Speaker Attractor Chisangano suspended Chisenga from attending any parliamentary proceedings for 30 days. This was after Muchinga Member of Parliament Emmanuel Banda had raised a complaint against Chisenga accusing her of placing the House into disrepute and disrespecting Mr Hakainde Hichilema.

On March 15, 2024 after Mr Hichilema’s national address, Chisenga was heard shouting at Mr Hichilema as he walked out of the House: “Ba kateka ubufi bwachilamo [Mr President, the lies are too much]”. This prompted Mr Hichilema to walk back and speak to Chisenga briefly. In her exculpatory letter, Chisenga denied the accusations, stating that the alleged misconduct happened after Mr Hichilema had addressed the House.

But in her ruling, Chisangano insisted that the President’s address was an auspicious occasion that required members to be dignified and respectful.

“I find that the conduct of the member did not only show disrespect to the President but also demeaned the decorum of the House. The behaviour was unjustified and unbefitting of the Member of Parliament. This is a House of honour, decorum, and dignity. I will not tolerate gross misconduct and indiscipline,” she said.

According to Chisangano, Chisenga was unjustified and disrespectful in calling out Mr Hichilema over his lies and dishonest conduct. We wonder how else Chisangano expected Chisenga to define Mr Hichilema’s conduct, which is now a widely known fact – every Zambian knows that Mr Hichilema is a liar. He lies effortlessly and unapologetically. Again, Chisangano speaks about Parliament being a “House of honour, decorum and dignity” and that she “will not tolerate gross misconduct and indiscipline”. What honour? Lies, injustice, bias!

The biggest culprit in desecrating these virtues emphasised by Chisangano is Mr Hichilema himself, whose lies, deceit, and fabrications are unrestrained irrespective of the audience and place, including Parliament. It is Mr Hichilema whose conduct is unjustified and unbefitting. It is Mr Hichilema who dishonours the decorum and dignity of the House through his continuous lies and deceit.

Chisenga tapali efyo alufyenye. She was merely relating Mr Hichilema to what he actually is. Chisenga was exercising her right to freedom of speech in the National Assembly. She posed no threat to Mr Hichilema’s security, and there was no disruption to the proceedings caused in any way. Everything occurred after Mr Hichilema had already completed his national address.

Therefore, Chisenga’s suspension is a highly drastic measure and has no rational basis whatsoever. This suspension and many other similar infringements on the rights and freedoms of non UPND legislators we have seen so far, are unfortunately, signaling that these decisions are motivated by political considerations to shut critical voices in Parliament and ultimately shield the Executive from legitimate criticism.

In this regard, the Speaker and her subordinate presiding officers have shown beyond any reasonable doubt that they’re resolved to undermine the principle of separation of powers by misusing the rules of the House to silence, intimidate and victimise non UPND parliamentarians. This is undemocratic, unacceptable, and must be stopped.

The UPND in opposition were never saints themselves. But they were tolerated. They were understood and only disciplined in extreme circumstances. What has changed now? What is so special about Mr Hichilema and the UPND? Let the right to freedom of speech and tolerance reign supreme in Parliament. Our Parliament must symbolise the culture of democracy without any hindrance.

We call upon the Speaker to ensure that our parliamentary democracy is nurtured and strengthened by guaranteeing an impartial, dignified, orderly, and transparent running of parliamentary business. We know this is not too much to ask for. It can and should be done.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

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