By OLIVER SAMBOKO
THE Patriotic Front was yesterday treated to a rude shock when the UPND spurned overtures to allow the opposition party to field a candidate for Deputy Speaker following an understanding between the two parties.
Leader of the opposition Brian Mundubile charged that UPND was bent on destroying the democracy that Zambians fought for by engaging in undemocratic tendencies including refusing to allow the Patriotic Front to field a deputy Speaker.
But UPND Secretary General Batuke Imenda said he was not aware any meeting that took place between his party and the PF.
Mr Imenda said the only people who would know about the alleged meeting is Monze law maker Jack Mwiimbu and others at Parliament.
“I am not a member of Parliament so I am not aware of what transpired and I don’t want to mislead you. Maybe ask Mwiimbu and others, they might know,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Mwiimbu said he has no any idea of any meeting taking place with the PF over the election of the Speaker and the deputies.
He challenged Mr Mundubile and the PF to state who they had a meeting with from the UPND and what agreement was made.
Mr Mundubile who is also PF Mporokoso lawmaker explained that PF and UPND had agreed that the position of deputy speaker would go to the PF but the ruling party changed its position at the last minute.
He said the UPND decided to break a well settled tradition of choosing National Assembly presiding officers by deciding to take all positions without inclusiveness.
Mr Mundubile said the tradition had been that the position of presiding offers were shared between the ruling party and the opposition to ensure inclusiveness.
He said the PF was saddened by the turn of events where all the presiding officers were coming from the ruling party.
Mr Mundubile also said the decision by the UPND to petition all the seats held by the PF was not good for the democratic tenets of the country.
He said Zambians should be alert and stand ready to defend their constitution against the UPND.
“As opposition, we are on record that the UPND are on a path to destroy democracy but Zambians should stand ready to defend their democracy,” he said.
He said the ruling party had missed an opportunity to create an inclusive parliament where both the opposition and ruling party were well represented in the presiding officers.
Mr Mundubile however assured the nation that the PF was not going to parliament to fight the UPND but as a partner in development.
Parliament yesterday made history by electing Lusaka lawyer Nelly Mutti as first female Speaker of the National Assembly.
“We are not going to parliament to fight the UPND government but instead to offer checks and balances because we understand that the win for UPND is a win for all of us,” he said.
Returning Officer, Clerk of the National Assembly Cecilia Mbewe declared Ms Mutti as the duly elected Speaker of the National Assembly after going through unopposed and will preside over the affairs of the House for the next five years.
Others elected unopposed are former UPND Gwembe MP Attractor Chisangano as first deputy Speaker and Luangeni independent MP Moses Frank Moyo as second deputy Speaker.