NINETEEN Patriotic Front (PF) members of Parliament (MPs) led by vice-president Guy Scott yesterday walked out of Parliament in protest against the Speaker’s ruling that the current executive was legitimate and should be allowed to carry out its mandate.
This was after Dr Scott rose on a point of order asking for guidance from the Speaker whether it was constitutional for the Government to appoint Defence Minister George Mpombo as leader of Government business in the House when there was no substantial office bearer.
Dr Scott, who is Lusaka Central constituency MP, further argued that nominated MPs did not have the mandate as the appointing authority had died, saying it would only be legitimate if they were re-nominated by President Rupiah Banda.
The MPs walked out of Parliament immediately after the Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa finished making his ruling shortly after the House resumed sitting yesterday.
In delivering the ruling, Mr Mwanamwambwa said constitutionally, after every five years, the people in Zambia were required to hold general elections in which the councillors, MPs and the president are elected.
He said MPs elected and nominated were still serving the five-year tenure of office as stipulated by the law following the tripartite elections in 2006.
“What the people of Zambia did on October 30 this year was to carry out one of these three elections – the presidential election.
“Please note that Cabinet was not dissolved. There was an acting president who carried on the work until the polls. Since Parliament was not dissolved, all the members continue in their positions, including nominated MPs,” he said.
The Speaker said the Cabinet continued to run after the October 30 polls and it was up to the head of State to appoint a new one if he so wished.
On the issue of the leader of Government business in Parliament, Mr Mwanamwambwa said the position was not only the preserve of the vice-president but any other senior minister could act or take up the position upon appointment by the president.
And Mr Mpombo said the walk-out by the PF MPs was uncalled for, saying Cabinet was not dissolved when the presidential election was announced.
“For PF to assume that Cabinet is illegal is poor interpretation of the law,” he said.
But PF chief whip Yamfwa Mukanga in an interview outside Parliament building maintained that the current executive was illegitimate.
Mr Mukanga, who is Kantanshi MP, said if President Banda was not sure of the people to appoint in his Cabinet at present, he was supposed to reappoint members from the old Cabinet and then later make reshuffles at an opportune time.
“People who are not legitimate should not answer our questions in Parliament. We have expressed our concern and hope a reaction will be made,” he said.
Dr Scott said the PF MPs walked out because they did not agree with the legal opinion of the Speaker.
Dr Scott said the PF hoped that the Government would regularise the situation.
Meanwhile, Parliament yesterday heard that the Government last year disbursed K9 billion worth of grants to 10 water utility firms to improve water supply and sanitation.
Local Government and Housing Deputy Minister Benny Tetamashimba said the Government was committed to improving access to safe and clean water.
Mr Tetamashimba was responding to a question by Mwinilunga East MP Stephen Katuka (UPND), who wanted to know whether the Government had any plans to provide grants to water utility companies country wide in order to improve service delivery.
The House also heard that Zambia had a total of 1,476 medical doctors.
Health Deputy Minister Lwipa Puma said out of the 1,476 medical doctors, 798 were Zambians, 199 Congolese, 63 Chinese, 12 Egyptian and 10 Cuban.
Dr Puma was responding to another question from Mr Katuka, who wanted to know how many of the doctors were registered with the Medical Council of Zambia and of what nationality.
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