Speaker asked to explain immunity debate

Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has been challenged to explain whether his action to allow the House to discuss a matter before the courts of law did not amount to abuse of parliamentary privileges.
Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) president Edwin Sakala questioned Dr Matibini’s resolution which should have been restrained in accordance with the sub-judice rule of the Commonwealth to which Zambia was a signatory.
“According to the sub-judice rule, a convention of parliament, the House is restrained from debating the matter which is before court for fear of prejudicing the outcome of the court proceedings.
“We were particularly set aback when you ruled, after the point of order was raised against the motion to lift the immunity of the former head of state that, the motion involved an internal matter and the House would not be stopped,” Mr Sakala said.
He explained that the action to allow debate on the motion to lift immunity of former President Rupiah Banda’s immunity in Parliament, while same matter was before Court and an injunction granted pending interparty hearing between the executive and the complainant was a violation by the Speaker.
Mr Sakala noted with displeasure the similarities over the matter concerning a petition to the House dated 28 June 2012 over allegations against the Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito which was thrown out based on the sub-judicial rule that it was being addressed by another arm of government, the court.“If what you said is true, what has changed now in the matter involving the former head of state? The matter was equally in court and was protected by the sub-judice rules. Regrettably, despite an injunction at that time, the debate went ahead and the immunity of the former head of state was eventually removed,” he said.He said ZDDM was convinced Parliament would rectify its mistake and would desist from assuming the role of a “player” as opposed to being the ‘referee’.
“For us as ZDDM we find it sad that even the court is now scared of handling the appeal made by our former President  because of the plight suffered by judges who handled cases where the architects of this whole crusade were involved,” Mr Sakala said.
Mr Banda was yesterday arrested and his passport withdrawn after several days of interrogations with the Joint Government Investigations Team on accusations of corruption, fraud and abuse of office.

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