… as Veep goes AWOL from Parley

Vice-President Guy Scott has been absconding Parliament for unknown reasons and Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has expressed ignorance on the whereabouts of the leader of Government business.

And Dr Matibini yesterday curtailed debate on the Parliamentary seats that have remained without representation for almost a year because constituencies were a subject of courts of law.

Dr Scott has been missing from Parliament since Tuesday and had not communicated to the Speaker about his whereabouts and why he had not delegated any of the Ministers to represent him.

He was responding to a point of order raised by MMD Mwandi Member of Parliament Michael Kaingu who wanted to know whether the House was in order to commence its business when the Leader of Government business was missing from the House.

Dr Kaingu said MPs including the Vice-President were using tax-payer’s money, making it important for the House to be informed why Dr Scott had been missing from the National Assembly.

Dr Matibini said in his ruling that he had not received any communication from Dr Scott’s office about why Dr Scott had been absconding Parliament.

He said it was procedural for the office of the Vice-President to inform the House if he (Dr Scott) was not going to attend Parliament proceedings but that this time around, he (Matibini) had not been communicated to why Dr Scott’s office.

Dr Matibini said Dr Scott had not even delegated any of the Ministers to represent him in the House during his absence and ruled that the MPs should not continue questioning the absence of the Vice-President in the House.

“We do normally get communication when he (Dr Scott) he is unable to attend to business in the House or when he delegates. That communication is made to us and we in turn make an announcement to the House. We are all required to be here. Let us not dwell on why the Vice-President is not in the House and I will not respond to the points of order on why the Vice President is absent,” Dr Matibini said.

And UPND Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo yesterday observed that it was a constitutional breach for Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi Constituencies to have no representation in Parliament for almost a year when the law dictated that a by-election should be held within 90 days of a seat falling vacant.

Mr Nkombo in his point of order wondered why Dr Matibini was not concerned that a number of Constituencies for the opposition political parties were being deprived of representation which he said was affecting development in the areas.

He said under the doctrine of the separation of powers, Parliament had the mandate to ensure that all the constituencies had representation in the House.

Mr Nkombo said Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi have had no representation for almost a year because the executive through Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba who is the secretary general of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) had applied to join in a case where the affected opposition political parties had sued the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

Mr Nkombo charged that government was with impunity breaching the Constitution by allowing Constituencies such as Vubwi, Solwezi Central, Kasenengwa and Mkushi South to have no representation in Parliament.

“Part 3 of the Constitution has been breached by government allowing the Constituencies whose elections were nullified to stay for a long time without representation. Under the doctrine, the separation of powers, the House is supposed to be concerned if some constituencies remain without representation. In November last year, three Parliamentary seats were nullified. Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi have are being deprived of representation. With impunity, the executive has been breaching the Constitution by allowing these constituencies not to have by-elections,” Mr Nkombo said.

But Dr Matibini ruled that while Mr Nkombo was right about the affected constituencies being deprived of representation, he was virtually hopeless to do anything as the affected seats were a subject of court proceedings.

Dr Matibini ruled that it would be highly irresponsible for him to make pronouncements on matters that were beyond his jurisdiction stating that he did not even know what motivated Mr Kabimba to apply that the ruling party should join in the matter where the opposition political parties had sued the ECZ.

He said the points of order on the vacant seats were legally technical and that it was not his constitutional business to delve into the matters.

“Just continue hoping that sooner rather than later, the Judiciary will provide the answer. I do understand the implication but quite frankly, I am as hopeless as Mazabuka MP. I have no jurisdiction as Speaker to adjudicate on this matter and the questions you have raised are technical and it is not my constitutional business to answer them,” Dr Matibini said.

And Dr Matibini yesterday reprimanded Minister of Commerce and Trade Bob Sichinga for entering the House late leading to lapse of the question he should have answered.