11 July 2002

Zambia: President Levy to Address Special Session of Parliament

President Levy Mwanawasa addresses a special meeting of Parliament today.

A programme released by the National Assembly yesterday does not state issues that will be tabled in the House but the special meeting comes against a backdrop of numerous revelations of corruption by former president Frederick Chiluba and members of his regime.

The ruling MMD has also been rocked with differences which have left the party split into two factions - the Mwanawasa and Chiluba factions. Chiluba recently admitted that relations between him and his successor were not warm.

There is also growing pressure from various non-governmental organisations, civil society, students, opposition political parties and members of the public to have Chiluba's immunity removed so that he could stand trial for the plunder he wreaked during his tenure.

Opposition UPND vice-president Sakwiba Sikota yesterday said he hoped the meeting will be worth the expenditure that will be made from the tax payer. "The meeting at Parliament will cost about K400 million to the tax payer.

We know democracy is expensive but it should not be wasteful. We expect that what he says will be worthy of the expenditure and not something that he could have said at any ordinary press conference which is less expensive," he said. Sikota, who is Livingstone UPND member of parliament, said it's a pity that the Zambian constitution does not allow for the President to be present to debate but the members of parliament would have loved that he answers a few questions on governance. Zambia Alliance for Progress (ZAP) leader Dean Mung'omba said though the purpose of summoning the House was not known, there was hope that President Mwanawasa will now guide the nation in dealing with all the issues of corruption and indiscipline in the government which has been revealed. "We need to create a system which deals with this matter effectively, efficiently and legally, which system also gives room for the nation to concentrate on the economy and social development," he said.

Mung'omba said Parliament itself should take advantage of the summoning by the President to set in motion a process to prosecute the criminality and above all start bringing back money and other assets stolen from the country.

"Anything short of that will not be accepted. We shall not accept that the President fails to provide leadership and neither will we allow members of parliament to fail us this time," said Mung'omba.

The programme states that President Mwanawasa who will be met by Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa will leave the Chamber immediately after he delivers his speech.

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