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We are not a vindictive govt, says Nalumango

PARLIAMENT has resolved to start sitting in the morning effective next week Tuesday to approve the national budget.

Meanwhile, Vice-President Mutale Nalumango has told the Patriotic Front that the UPND is “not a vindictive government”.

According to a motion presented by Vice-President Nalumango yesterday, this will give the House more time to debate all items before adjourning.

“Madam, Standing Order 25 provides that on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays, the House shall meet at 14:30 hours and at 09:00 hours on Fridays; while Standing Orders 26 and 27 provide for the suspension of business and automatic times of adjournment. Standing Order 115 prohibits consideration of more than one stage of the bill in one sitting. This motion seeks to suspend the above Standing Orders so that the House has ample time to complete outstanding business before Christmas,” Vice-President Nalumango said. “Madam Speaker, the House is aware that by law the national budget ought to be approved before a new financial year begins. This being an election year, the House is pressed for time to consider and approve the 2022 national budget. There is therefore need to provide additional time within which all business pending consideration by the House is attended to before the House adjourns sine die. It is for this reason, Madam Speaker, that I propose that effective Tuesday 14th December 2021, the House starts sitting at 09:00 hours each day until business on the order paper is concluded. Madam, this proposal will give the House an additional two and half hours each day to transact business smoothly without rushing through. This will in turn enable the House to adjourn a few days after Christmas.”

And later debating the motion, Bangweulu PF member of parliament Anthony Kasandwe complained that there were not enough opposition members to debate because most of them were being harassed by the UPND government.

“The motion that has been put before this House seeks to allow members to seek for more time. But if you look on your left, Madam Speaker, you’ll discover that or you’ll realise that most of our members are not in this House. So, I may ask a question, which members does this motion seek to give more time?” he said. “Is it the members from the left or is it the members from your right, Madam Speaker, because most of our members are being harassed right, left and centre? Others are in Kawambwa, others are in Muchinga, others are everywhere.”

Kasandwe said because of the alleged harassment, the opposition were reluctant to support the motion.

“So, we are reluctantly supporting this motion which is simply procedural as it has been put in place. But I want to put it in [sic] record that this political harassment that UPND has started will not take them anywhere. So, this harassment you have started will not take you anywhere. It’s just a clear indication that you want to make this country a one party democracy; and we’ll not allow it,” he said as Speaker Mutti advised him to stick to the motion.

“Honourable member, stick to the motion. Let’s try to maintain some harmony of some sort. I know things are difficult but let’s try to stick to the motion,” advised Mutti.

As Kasandwe continued, he said the session was very important as the House was considering the national budget.

He advised the government to fulfill their campaign promises such as reducing the price of mealie-meal.

“This is a very important session in the parliament calendar where we need the opposition and all the members to be available so that they contribute to debate on the appropriation of what has been put on the floor,” said Kasandwe. “Anyway, the motion will lead to adjournment, which will actually give more time for UPND government to fulfill some of their promises they made, okay. So, as we are going towards adjournment, please ensure that you reduce the price of mealie-meal to K50, ensure that you reduce the price of fertiliser to K250…”

In response, Vice-President Nalumango said there was no one being harassed.

She said an opportunity had come for people to clear their names in the courts of law.

“I want to thank all the members that spoke to the motion, except to correct the notion because it has gone round, Madam, that there’s political harassment. Madam Speaker, there’s no political harassment. The issue here, people, if you feel extremely innocent; you feel harassed, it’s an opportunity for you to go to court and come out clean so that people don’t continuously therefore look at you with suspicion. That is not harassment,” she said. “And to state, Madam Speaker, that this is political harassment, may be let them say it is, what is it, because we have even declared even standing here, Madam, that we don’t want our hands to control investigative wings. We don’t want to control any institution other than ourselves. We have restraint, we are people that want to see unity.”

She asked Kasandwe why he was not being harassed as an opposition member if indeed there was political harassment.

“If there’s suspicion and the investigative wings find that there is reason for you to be taken to court, please don’t take it as harassment. Why isn’t the honourable member himself speaking not being harassed? What is the choice? Why not him? Why not the other one sitting there, or the other one there?” asked Vice-President Nalumango. “Let us not politicise the institutions of governance. Let them do their work. Madam, what is said in the end is very important. Let us unite honourable members. Let us not look at things like victimisation, harassment. We are not a vindictive government, we know the environment and we want to work, Madam Speaker, with colleagues to push Zambia forward; that is what it is for us.”

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