…MWEETWA, KAMPYONGO DIFFER OVER PARLEY VOTE
By SIMON MUNTEMBA
THE Patriotic Front failed to float candidates for Speaker of the National Assembly, and two deputies respectively because they are still recovering from the humiliating August 12 election defeat, UPND national spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa has said.
But PF Parliamentary Chief Whip Stephen Kampyongo has expressed shock that the UPND MPs could turn around and claim that there was no discussion when it was agreed that PF would float a candidate as the largest opposition political party.
Mr Kampyongo, who echoed remarks by leader of the opposition Brian Mundubile said it was disappointing that the UPND had broken long-settled practice inclusiveness when selecting presiding officers of the National Assembly.
Mr Kampyongo said he was part of the PF MPs who attended the meeting with the UPND MPs at which it was agreed that they would be allowed to field a candidate.
“When the leader of the opposition say we had prior discussion that is true because I was part of that discussion and we thought we were approached in a good spirit. The fact that Cornelius Mweetwa wasn’t part of that discussion should not make him think that we are speaking from without.
“We are just being reasonable not to single out some UPND leaders that approached us over the elections of the Speaker and deputies. And for them to turn around and say there wasn’t a discussion is being insincere to say the least,” MrKampyongo said.
He said unlike the UPND when PF came into power in 2011, it was inclusive.
“In comparing and contrasting what is happening now and what we did in 2021, we allowed Mr Mkhondo Lungu who was MMD Lundazi MP and an experienced legislature to deputise High Court Judge Dr Patrick Matibini who was relatively new in Parliament. We also settled for Mr Chifumu Banda, who was FDD ChasefuMP as a way to demonstrate inclusiveness,” he said.
In 2016, he said PF did not see any need to replace Dr Matibini but only brought in former MMD Mafinga MP Catherine Namugala as first deputy Speaker, while PF Mfuwe MP Mwimba Malama was elected second deputy Speaker.
Mr Mweetwa said the PF leadership should blame themselves for being disorganised than unfairly accusing the ruling party of being bent on destroying the country’s democracy.
He said it was not true that there was an agreement between PF and UPND over the election of the Speaker and the deputies.
“As for what the leader of the opposition, Honorable Brian Mundubile said, I think for us as UPND, we have to understand our friends, they are coming from a campaign where they thought campaigning on tribal and regional lines could divide this country but lost terribly. So, they are still recovering from a shock defeat,” MrMweetwa said during an interview with Diamond TV.
He also described the election of Ms Nelly Mutti as unprecedented and historic because it was the first time that Zambia had a woman as Speaker.
Mr Mweetwa who spoke highly of the newly elected Speaker said it was the ruling UPND’s desire to see to it that the opposition and independent members of Parliament to always be in Parliament and debate freely.