Leader of Government Business in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa has accused Speaker of Parliament Catherine Gotani Hara of alleged bias against the government side during debates and other business in the National Assembly.
Nankhumwa wrote a letter to the speaker where he says that he is: “afraid to conclude that this has not been the case with the speaker as she has demonstrated that she panders to narrow political interests and sometimes even plain disregard of parliamentary ground rules.”
In a communication dated October 7 2019 signed by Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, the government side describes some decisions the Speaker has made as leaving a lot to be desired.
“Your decisions and calls over so many matters in the House recently have left a lot to be desired, and oftentimes, I have been left wondering whether this is the new way of doing things.”
In the communication, Nankhumwa made reference to the way the speaker handled the issues pertaining to Member of Parliament (MP) Honourable Sameer Suleman and MP Honourable Richard Chimwendo Banda respectively, saying that despite the two MPs committing similar offences under parliamentary standing orders, the speaker disciplined the two MPs differently.
“Were it not for the unanimous protests and calls for equal treatment from government members in the House, Honouorabe Chimwendo Banda would have gone scot free without being punished,” reads the letter.
The letter further describes the Speaker’s decision not to allow a motion for an extension of time to allow members debate on Acting Inspector General Duncan Mwapasa’s confirmation as being wrongly conceived.
On Friday, the Speaker pointed out that Standing Orders do not allow for an extension of time after going past sitting time which on this particular day is 12.30 pm.
“We have gone past our sitting day today. So, we cannot entertain any more motions,” said Hara.
In her ruling on Thursday, the Speaker used Standing Order 105 (3) on Sanctions Against Disorderly Conduct which says that if a member is named, the Speaker may direct that he or she be suspended from the National Assembly for two sitting days from the time of suspension.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.