15 November 2012

Zambia: MMD Parliament Status Wanes

THE MMD has lost status of leader of the opposition in Parliament following dwindling numbers of members in the House.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Matibini announced the revocation of MMD's recognition yesterday.

Currently none of the opposition parties had the required 53 members to satisfy the quorum as provided for under Article 84 (4) of the Republican Constitution.

Dr Matibini had as at October 19, last year recognised the MMD as the Official Opposition, a decision that he had since revoked.

"Hon Members, as matters stand at the moment, none of the opposition political parties in the House has the requisite 53 Members to satisfy the quorum as provided for under Article 84 (4) of the Constitution. In this vein, the decision I made to recognise the MMD as Official Opposition in the House is hereby revoked," Dr Matibini said in his ruling.

The ruling follows a point of order raised on June 19, this year by Patriotic Front's Obvius Chisala, Member of Parliament (MP) for Chilubi.

He had wanted to know whether it was in order for MMD Lunte MP, Felix Mutati to continue holding the position of Leader of the Opposition when the party did not meet the required 53 Parliamentary seats.

At the time of recognising the MMD as the Official Opposition political party, the former ruling party had 54 seats, followed by the United Party for National Development (UPND) with 28, the Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) and the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) which had one each while three seats belonged to Independent MPs.

The figures have since changed following by-elections in Livingstone Central, Chama North, and Mufumbwe Constituencies.

The current membership representation in the House stands at MMD (51), UPND (30), ADD and FDD, both still with one seat each while Independent representation has dropped to two seats.

Dr Matibini said Mr Mutati had since resigned his post and tendered his letter on July 18,this year and the National Assembly withdrew all the benefits that were accorded to him, in his capacity as the Leader of the Opposition.

For an opposition political party to be recognised as the Official Opposition in Parliament, it should satisfy the requirements of having a distinct ideology and programme of work in the political, economic or social field.

It should also form a homogenous unit capable of developing into a well knit entity and should have an organisation, both inside and outside the House, which was in contact with public opinion on all national important issues.

The party should at least be able to command a strength which would enable it to keep the House running, meaning that, its number should not be less than the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the House.

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