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Kalekeni Kaphale cautions Speaker on UDF MPs

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Attorney General (AG) Kalekeni Kaphale has expressed his displeasure at the way Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya has handled the contentious issue of the United Democratic Front (UDF) Members of Parliament who are deemed to have crossed the floor by sitting on the government side.

In his letter to the Speaker, copied to Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu, Kaphale is concerned that the Speaker seems to ignore his earlier advice that as long as the UDF MPs have not resigned from their party or joined the DPP they cannot be deemed to have crossed the floor.

“Your Honour, my attention has recently been drawn to a ‘petition’ that was presented to your Honourable office by one Billy Mayaya, purpoting to be a member of civil society and who is clearly, not a member of the House. I observe that the so called petition was addressed to and brought directly to your attention and that no Member of the House signed the same or presented the same or took charge of it.

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“I have also taken note that on 8th June, 2015 you proceeded to act on the petition by writing to the United Democratic Front Members of the House affected by it to respond to the allegations therein. Most notable, my advice was not sought on how your office should handle the so called petition in light of prevailing laws and Standing Orders,” says Kaphale in his letter dated June 12, 2015 which we have seen.

Kaphale says he has written the letter because he feels duty bound in his capacity as principal legal advisor to the government. He then goes on to appraise the Speaker of the process that a petition should follow before the Speaker acts.

“I draw your Honour’s attention to Part XVI of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly. Most notably, Standing Order number 53(1) requires such a petition to be in a prescribed form and to be presented by a Member. There must be a Member in charge of such petition who must sign on the front page of it according to Standing Order 57(1) and Standing Order 58, such petition shall be presented by a Member on a private Member’s day,” explains Kaphale.

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He signs off by urging the Speaker to reconsider his decision: “By reason of the above, I humbly request your Honour to review and revisit your actions pursuant to the petition as it is clear that the same is not properly before you or the House.”

Efforts to get hold of either the Speaker or the acting Clerk of Parliament Roosevelt Gondwe did not succeed as their mobile phones could not be reached.

But Gondwe, a lawyer, told us on Tuesday last week that it was important to let the Speaker make a ruling before any party rushes to court for an injunction.

UDF Spokesperson Ken Ndanga who on Friday accused the Speaker of being part of a conspiracy to punish the UDF said although he was not aware of the letter, it confirms his party’s suspicion.

“The mastermind of that conspiracy is slowly being exposed. In as far as we are concerned our members have not crossed the floor. The Speaker should avoid embarrassing his office with this matter unless he has personal interests,” said Ndanga.

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