Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has warned of serious repercussion against politicians and other stakeholders who criticize his office.
Dr. Matibini yesterday said in Parliament that disrespect of his office was an offence.
He was making a ruling on points of order from PF ministers who wanted Zambian Voice Executive Director Chilufya Tayali and All People’s Congress president Nason Msoni cited for contempt for demanding for the resignation of the Speaker for alleged bias conduct.
“Honourable members, from the outset I would like to state that the office of the speaker is a public office as such it is susceptible to public criticism. This means that in the exercise of the freedom of expression guaranteed under article 20 of the constitution chapter 1 of the laws of Zambia, the public is at liberty to comment on the proceedings of the house.
“However, the public in particular Mr. Msoni and Mr. Tayali need also appreciate that the freedom of expression is not absolute but subject to limitation such as respect of the rights and liberties of our persons and citizens,” said Dr. Matibini.
He said people should take responsibility as they demand or enjoy the freedom of expression because it was not absolute.
“This means that the freedom of expression places responsibility on every person to take necessary measure not to exceed the limitation. And in addition, and more importantly criticism against the office of the speaker should not be offensive, insulting, derogatory or unfounded on baseless assumptions,” Dr Matibini said.
He warned Mr. Msoni and Mr. Tayali that if they continued to disrespect his office, he would punish them.
“Needless to say that according to the National Assembly Powers and Privileges Act, it is an offence for anybody to disrespect the Speaker in speech or any other manner. Therefore, Mr. Msoni and Mr. Tayali cast aspersion on the offices of the speaker which are not founded on fact and are therefore clearly disrespectful. And in this circumstance, Mr. Msoni and Tayali and other stakeholders are warned not to disrespect the office of the Speaker.
“Let me warn Mr. Msoni and Tayali that the office of the Speaker holds respect world over and in this regard should exercise respect especially on me as the Speaker in practices and procedures of the house so as to avoid being punished by the house or prosecuted through the office of the DPP,” he warned.
And Dr. Matibini cleared Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and Vice President Dr. Guy Scott for suggesting that opposition Members of Parliament who were demanding for the release of the constitution where just monkeying.
Dr. Matibini said that both Dr. Scott and Mr. Kabimba were in order to suggest that statement.