The speaker is caught in a rather ambiguous and un-enviable position.
According to the constitution he is the head of the legislature to which the Cabinet and all Ministers and deputy Ministers are answerable. In other words the President and his Ministers must subject themselves to oversight by the National Assembly.
To avoid any misunderstanding Article 51 of the constitution is couched in very clear terms namely that “The cabinet and Deputy Ministers shall be accountable collectively to the National Assembly”
The National Assembly has a duty to review the conduct of the President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers and exercise oversight over national resources. What is before the house is a gross abuse of funds made in the pretext of a constitution making process which has now been shelved with no explanation from the executive.
This country cannot afford such lavish, careless and unjustified expenditure. That is why law makers have every right under the constitution to demand an explanation. The speaker must therefore stand by members of the National Assembly who are seeking accountability.
The National Assembly has this constitutional duty.
It is a great pity that this noble exercise made in the interest of the people is being trivialized to sitting allowances. The issue is not sitting allowances. The issue is the billions of kwacha spent on the constitution making process which President Sata has now written off.
Wynter Kabimba must know that Zambians are not stupid. The President has made very clear public statements writing off the constitution making process. This is the starting point of the current crisis. Although he is a Member of Parliament he cannot be made to account for his statements in the National Assembly.
That is why the executive is being called to account as stipulated by the constitution.
Questions of accountability must be answered without fail. The form of the question may be unconventional and different but the outcome must be the same the executive must provide an explanation.
More importantly as an assembly of representatives the assembly speaks for and attempts to find solutions to the problems confronting the electorate and exercise oversight over implementing institutions to ensure the implementation of projects and policies that meet national expectation.
The gravitas of this oversight is exemplified by the fact that the National Assembly can impeach the President to seek his removal for misconduct or indeed by a motion of no confidence against the Cabinet or an individual minister the nation assembly can censure Government.
In the end it all boils down to the ethics. In a democracy accountability means answerability. In this case the Government must take responsibility for the action it has take in the process of the proposed enactment of a new constitution.
The Government has spent huge amounts of money on this exercise. It cannot therefore shield itself from blame by executive indignation. It must take responsibility for the expenditure and accept blame for the abuse.
The National Assembly does not refer to the building but the people. According to our current constitution the President is not a member of the National Assembly, which body is made up of elected and nominated members including the speaker.