The High Court has dismissed, with costs, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Member of Parliament Shadric Namalomba’s challenge against Leader of the Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa’s decisions in Parliament.
Namalomba challenged Nankhumwa’s decision to change the seating plan in Parliament, moving him from seat 25 to number 99 and later seat Number 100, appointing a shadow Cabinet for the DPP and the party’s spokespersons in the august House without the party’s approval.
The court then restrained Nankhumwa from discharging duties of the office of Leader of the Opposition without consultation and written approval of the party.
It also stopped Parliament from acting or recognising his decisions in the absence of proof that he consulted the party.
But, in his judgement, Judge Mzondi Mvula said all the issues Namalomba raised are political and bordering on internal management issues of Parliament.
“Seating strategically in Parliament, so [that] the Claimant [Namalomba] contributes effectively to motions in the chamber, is a political strategy. Members of Parliament use microphones to communicate the wishes of their constituencies in Parliament. They stand and/or raise a hand to be recognised by the Speaker. The Speaker grants the floor to a Member of Parliament at a time to speak, through microphones, to the nation. Members of Parliament, who are challenged to stand and address the Chair as is customary, need not stand to contribute to motions.
“In the same way, order papers and other communication is circulated to them in the comfort of seats in the Chamber. These are not beamed on projector in the House. Therefore, to claim one does not see far and, hence, should not be reallocated from seat 25 to seat 99, later 100, hence limiting political participation and discrimination, is fallacious. Matters raised by Claimant are, to say the least, of internal proceedings of Parliament. For all intents and purposes [they] cannot, and should not, be made subject to litigation in the High Court of justice. Doing so violates parliamentary privilege, unless the issue is constitutional in nature,” he said.
Mvula notes that issues to do with Nankhumwa consulting the DPP and being required to provide the Speaker with a letter from the party on his decisions are political and require political solutions.
He said the Speaker cannot, in the exercise of duty, be made subject to any direction or authority and that she cannot be sued to exercise a function in an internal political matter adding that Namalomba suppressed material facts, especially on the issue of feuding in the party.
“The claimant stayed sitting arrangement in Parliament from seat 22 to 99 and later 100 while Parliament was in session. Initial failed service at Parliament saw it effected on the Attorney General, who took the order to Parliament. The claimant has used the back door against parliamentary privilege. By the same back door, he is booted out from the High Court of justice,” he said.