LUSAKA lawyer Nelly Mutti has become the first female Speaker of the National Assembly after going through unopposed.
Mutti is a veteran lawyer, business personality, and an activist who participated passionately in stopping late president Frederick Chiluba’s third term bid in 2001.
Malungo Chisangano and Luangeni Independent member of parliament Moses Moyo were also each confirmed in their respective positions after they also went unopposed.
When Parliament sat yesterday, National Assembly clerk Cecilia Mbewe declared the trio as lawful bearers of their respective officers.
And congratulating Mutti, Vice-President Mutale Nalumango expressed confidence that she would treat all members of parliament equally.
Vice-President Nalumango further urged Speaker Mutti to make fair rulings in the House.
“With the disciplinary powers conferred upon you by the Constitution of Zambia, the National Assembly powers and privileges Act, National Assembly Standing Orders, I am positive that you will treat all honourable members elected and nominated from both the opposition and ruling party equally,” she said. “And that you will ensure that all honourable members enjoy the same rights, privileges and immunities, and have the same opportunities. …I wish to state that I have no doubt that guided by the powers that are vested in you by the Constitution of Zambia, National Assembly powers and privileges Act, and the Standing Orders, you will without fear or favour make fairer rulings on all important national issues that will be raised in the House.”
Vice-President Nalumango also reminded Mutti, who takes over from Dr Patrick Matibini, about the importance of the seat she has occupied.
“Madam, we all have no doubt that you are the most suitable person for that seat. The seat is not only of great prestige and dignity, but one that also brings great distinction, integrity and warmth. I am convinced that in you, the National Assembly will have a custodian of the dignity and authority of the House when you regulate debates and enforce strict observance of the rules which govern orderly conduct in the House,” Vice-President Nalumango added. “Madam, the office of Speaker is an essential feature of a democratic parliament. It is an important ancient and honourable office deserving great respect. As head of the Legislature, you are the custodian of the rights and privileges of the members of parliament. Your allegiance is to the cause of parliamentary liberty. You are neither a servant or executive nor the judiciary. Your first loyalty is to this House.’’
And Vice-President Nalumango cautioned Mutti about the immense powers vested on her.
She expected the Speaker to use those powers in performing national duties to the best standard.
“Madam Speaker, your office has immense powers which include presiding over the proceedings in the House, making rulings on procedures in the House as well as on important national issues and calling on members to speak. But above all these powers include influencing the order of business in the House,” said Vice-President Nalumango. “… I am confident that you are richly endowed with qualities that you will be able to use powers vested in you in the performance of your duties to expected standards. Madam, as a custodian of the dignity and privileges of the House, the functions of your office are the same as those of a leader of any organisation. That is, to uphold and preserve the integrity of the organisation and to uphold its rules and objectives. I am confident that the role of the House as a national legislature with the powers to preserve the right of individuals will be upheld by you, its Speaker.”
And the UPND Alliance has described Mutti’s election as a new dawn in the country’s politics.
Alliance spokesperson Lesley Chikuse said the election also confirmed President Hakainde Hichilema’s resolve to give opportunities to all Zambians.
“This milestone governance decision is not only historical and progressive, but confirms the comforting fact that indeed the Hakainde Hichilema-led UPND Alliance government is serious with their objective to provide equitable opportunities to all Zambians without due consideration to gender or any other affiliations,” Chikuse said in a statement. “Further, this election of Madam Mutti as the Speaker, heralds the new dawn in the country’s politics and is evident of the sustainable politics the UPND Alliance government wants to be identified by. Whilst we join the rest of our fellow citizens to congratulate Ms Nelly Mutti, the new Speaker; Attractor Malungo Chisangano, 1st Deputy Speaker; and Mr Moses Frank Moyo, MP for Luangeni who is the 2nd Deputy Speaker, the UPND Alliance also reiterates their assurance that the principle of separation of powers will be fully respected.”
And Chikuse assured of separation of powers among the three arms of government.
He also paid tribute to the youth who were the main voters and assured them of recognition from the Head of State.
“In this regard, the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary will operate within the confines of the legal mandates that led to their establishment as the three arms of government. Let it be known today, through the election of the first female National Assembly Speaker, that the UPND Alliance is in full support of President Hakainde Hichilema’s stance of non-interference in other institutions of governance,” said Chikuse. “To the youths who gave us an overwhelming vote during the just-ended general election, the UPND Alliance, through the election of the first female Speaker, are demonstrating to you that your issues of exclusion from the decision-making processes, are also top of the agenda for this New Dawn administration. This can be noted from the President’s appointment of a youthful, Mr Anthony Bwalya, as his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations. Mr Bwalya’s appointment confirms the fulfillment of one of our campaign promises that ours will be an all-inclusive government anchored on Reuniting and Rebuilding Zambia.”