Just after the budget presentation by Finance Minister Ken Lipenga, 110 Members of Parliament who have defected to the People’s Party (PP) were in shock to receive letters from Speaker of the National Assembly Rt. Hon Henry Chimunthu Banda informing them of the Speaker’s stand on s.65.
According to one of the letters signed by the Speaker dated 7th of June 2012, which I have copy, with the headline “RE: Invoke s.65 of the constitution”; the head of the legislature has asked all the members who have received the letter to respond to the issue of their crossing the floor within seven (7) days from today.
“In accordance with Standing Orders 46(1) you are required to respond to the Office of the Speaker on allegations herein within 7 days; upon expiring of which a ruling shall be given in the chamber on the date to be appointed by the Speaker”, reads the letter in part.
Further, the letter says that the Speaker’s office received a petition from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on 6th June through Dr. George Chaponda and the party’s secretary general Mr. Wakuda Kamanga requesting the Speaker to declare vacant seats of the its errant members in line with s.65(ii) as read with Standing Order 46 of the National Assembly.
The letter has since created panic in the honourable members so much that immediately after the budget presentation all affected members converged in the Ministers waiting room for a caucus to discuss the matter. The members were however, assured by an official from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General that the matter is in control.
Reports show that government has already gone to court for an injunction on the matter. It is yet to be seen if there will be a repeat of the 2005/6 battle both inside and outside the chamber when the DPP government was a minority after breaking away from the United Democratic Front (UDF) the party that sponsored it into power.