HAKAINDE Hichilema says PF are frightened to the bone over the motion to impeach President Edgar Lungu following constitutional breaches and gross misconduct hence its decision to go to court to try and block it.
The Lusaka High Court has stayed Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini’s decision to entertain a notice of motion of impeachment of President Edgar Lungu.
The High Court order followed an application through judicial review by Robert Chabinga and Henry Mulenga who are being represented by Lewis Mosho and Hobday Kabwe.
Two weeks ago, Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Garry Nkombo, supported by 60 other members of parliament, submitted the motion for possible tabling on a Wednesday before Parliament adjourned sine die but could not be tabled because, according to deputy speaker Catherine Namugala, the Speaker was not compelled on when the motion could be brought in the House.
Chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya branded it frivolous and an abuse of the law.
Later, the PF started arguing that the motion should not be entertained because there were matters in court regarding some of the grounds of impeachment.
The impeachment is premised on failure by President Lungu to hand over executive functions to Speaker Matibini when the UPND filed a presidential election petition, and excesses in expenditure such as the 42 fire trucks and the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway projects, among others.
Commenting on the development, Hichilema said it was strange that the PF could now run to court when initially they said the impeachment motion would never succeed because UPND did not have numbers in Parliament to pass it.
“We gave them the argument that this motion had nothing to do with numbers but everything to do with the illegalities, it’s their constitutional transgressions which were occasioned, the numbers didn’t matter. The nation would know that we are being ruled by somebody who basically has no respect for the constitution, which he swore to protect,” Hichilema said. “…I don’t think the debate as to whether or not the motion is frivolous is there anymore because we have people who are frightened, PF are frightened to the bone, I am sure you can see it yourself.”
He said in 1990, the MMD, as an opposition then, had no members of Parliament but were able to get UNIP to act in the interest of Zambians to amend the constitution to move the country away from a single party dispensation to a multiparty one.
The opposition leader recalled that UNIP even went further to bring the elections ahead by two years (from 1993 to 199I).
“So we demonstrated to everybody that this motion had nothing to do with the numbers because every member of parliament, yes they are elected on a party ticket but once you are in the House, you are a creation of the constitution and the constitution belongs to the people and the people will use the constitution as an instrument to achieve what they want in a civilised nation,”
“The truth is that they [PF] are frightened, completely frightened yet they were suggesting that they were unconcerned about this impeachment motion. That’s the first argument. The second comment is that we are waiting to see how Parliament will behave.”
He said at the time that Rupiah Banda’s immunity was about to be lifted by Parliament, the former head of State had gone to court to challenge the move.
On March 15, 2013 the motion, introduced by then PF minister of justice Wynter Kabimba to lift Banda’s immunity became deadlocked for an hour after UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu rose on a point of order arguing that the house must first await the outcome of a case that was sitting before the High Court filed by Banda, which requested an injunction until he was given an opportunity to defend himself.
“Mr Speaker, we are all aware that at various foras and in this house, you have advised that a matter that is in court cannot be discussed on the floor of this house,” Mwiimbu said then in his point of order.
”Your office, Mr. Speaker, has always said once the matter is in court, your hands are tied. And that there is nothing you can do until the matter is resolved in the courts of law.”
However, Speaker Matibini ruled against Mwiimbu’s point of order, and following an hour long recess during which he met with opposition whips and advisers, he then proceeded to rule against every point of order and objection raised by the opposition, eventually leading to the walkout of members of parliament.
Hichilema said Banda had gone to court but Speaker Matibini allowed the motion on removal of immunity to proceed even when he knew there was a court matter over the issue.
“He argued that Parliament was an independent arm of government and acts in accordance with its own procedures, its own parliamentary standing orders and procedures,” Hichilema explained.
“It is the same Speaker, the same Parliament, the same party, the PF, I think you remember that. And the PF Parliament went ahead to remove Rupiah Banda’s immunity even when Rupiah Banda had gone to court. We want to see how this Speaker, this Parliament will handle this matter. We don’t want to say that they have stopped it. There is an attempt by PF to stop it but we want to see how Parliament behaves because we expect them to be consistent on how they have behaved in the past.”
He further reminded Speaker Matibini on his decision to declare the Chilanga parliamentary seat vacant after Keith Mukata appealed against his conviction and sentencing for murder by the High Court.
“This Speaker has gone ahead, against an appeal in court, to declare the seat vacant in Chilanga; why would he then not proceed to table our motion? We expect him to table our motion because our motion met the procedural requirements in being tabled. If it is not tabled, it will clearly show complacency and also complicity and that the Speaker is a biased Speaker…and that he is there to serve the PF other than to serve the people of Zambia, he should be serving the people of Zambia,”
“So let’s see how he plays his double standards if he plays it that way but we expect him to table the motion because he should have been already decided by now.”
Asked whether he felt the move was a ploy by PF to drag the impeachment motion until it is never tabled, Hichilema said “the PF schemes all the time”.
“The onus is on Parliament because Parliament has already pronounced itself that the motion is correctly before it and it must play its role,” he said.
“We want to see how Parliament will wangle itself out of this because they should not be dancing to the whims of the PF. You notice also what Davis Mwila did, the [impeachment] motion was submitted on the floor of the House and as an afterthought, he went to the Constitutional Court over the ministers serving in cabinet beyond the dissolution of Parliament, that’s another abuse, I am sure you noticed that. So you can see this is a group of frightened people, frightened because of the thieving and the corruption that they have been engaged in and now their days are numbered, they can see that their days are numbered because that motion will expose their constitutional breaches, that motion will expose their abuse of the rule of law.”
Hichilema said Zambians should open their eyes and see that UPND was serious about everything they do in the country.
“We speak on their behalf because a lot of citizens don’t have the courage, they don’t have the opportunity and the don’t have the instruments to use. Fortunately, we do have those and we are using them for and on behalf of the people of Zambia,” he said.
Hichilema said the PF used Parliament to block the tabling of the impeachment motion.
He said the PF’s manoeuvres clearly showed there were constitutional transgressions they committed and fear that they would “lose the opportunity to continue stealing from the people”.
“This is what we have done as Zambians; we have allowed thieves to continue stealing while people suffer, while children sleep without food, some don’t go to school because there is no money while our people have no jobs, our marketeers have no money because they don’t have trading places and we allow people to continue eating and stealing from us. Please Zambians, we must open our ears and eyes and gather strength to do the correct thing; to say no to these thieves, this bunch of corrupt people,”
He said PF never went into government to run a country but to ransack resources of citizens.
“And they will stop at nothing even if it means breaking the constitution as they have been doing. How can they keep ministers in Cabinet even after the first ruling that they were illegally in office, that was before the elections and Lungu should have corrected that mistake by removing the ministers in accordance with the court ruling, he didn’t which was another breach. Then after the saga of this fraudulent election, he reappoints those people; they were not eligible to be appointed; another breach,” Hichilema explained.
“So how can he run a country when he himself is in the forefront of breaking the law? How does he expect other citizens to operate? The country will degenerate into jungle law.”