Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

10 July 2014

Zambia: Matibini Fuels Further Speculation on Sata's Sickbed

Speaker of the National Assembly has maintained the brick wall around questions over the mystery surrounding the whereabouts and health status of the President who this morning failed to walk to the nearest microphone to swear in judges and is reportedly due for a medical trip.

President Michael Sata, according to State House sources, is due for medical attention in South Africa as his health continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. He failed to swear in judges ratified by Parliament. The judges include the alleged PF cadre Mumba Malila.

In Parliament this afternoon, Monze Central Member of Parliament Jack Mwiimbu rose on a point of order asking the Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini whether it was right for the executive and legislator to remain quiet amidst the information gap that was creating speculation and opening the Presidency to ridicule.

Mwiimbu said there was lack of clarity in information that had been given by the relevant authorities.

Below is a verbatim of Mwiimbu's question and Matibini's response:

In line with article 87:2, article 51, article 38, and article 39 and 63 of the Constitution of Zambia, Mr Speaker I would like to request youR office to take judicial notice of the contents of the articles I have referred to therein.

Mr Speaker while you were away I did raise a point of order on his honour the Vice President to make a statement on the whereabouts of the President of the Republic of Zambia. And thereafter statements have been made on the floor of this house and rulings have been made pertaining to the same.

Further Mr Speaker arising out of what we have been told on the floor of this house, last week on Saturday there were press reports which were suggesting that His Excellency the President was in this country and that he had arrived on Friday evening.

Both private and government media carried those stories. A day later the minister of information disputed those reports that actually His Excellency the President did not arrive in the country on Friday but arrived on Saturday evening.

He also went to talk about that the acting Presidency that was held by the honourable minister of justice (Wynter Kabimba) informed us that he was no longer acting because the President was in the country.

And on Saturday Mr Speaker to add salt to injury the PF cadres, multitudes of them went to the airport purporting to welcome His Excellency the President, unfortunately the one who disembarked on that plane was not His Excellency but was the son Mulenga Sata.

Yesterday Mr Speaker on the Copperbelt the provincial chairman was addressing party cadres it was aired on Muvi TV and the party cadres were chanting Sata fit, Sata fit.

Now Mr Speaker if you read the press in the last three weeks to date, everyday there are issues speculating on the whereabouts of the President and comments are being made which are actually rendering the Presidency to ridicule.

Mr Speaker are we collectively in order as National Assembly and the executive to allow situation where the Presidency is being ridiculed nationally and internationally without clarifying issues and protecting the Presidency.

We are the leaders of this country and the people of this country look to us, why should we allow statements which are not helpful, statements which are allowing the nation to continue speculating on the whereabouts and health of the President when there is an executive in office.

Are we in order Mr Speaker to allow this scenario to continue in this country? I seek your serious ruling.

Response by the Speaker:

I have listened very carefully to your point of order, although it is long of winding and although it has referred to several provisions of the constitution and as I understand it boils down and resolves itself into two factual questions namely: the whereabouts of the President and the health of the president.

As regards the whereabouts of the President you have rightly pointed out yourself that there was an official statement from the honourable minister of information and broadcasting clarifying the dates when the President arrived in the country and also confirming the fact that the president is within the jurisdiction of the country.

To that extent on the first question I do not see any calls for speculation in light of the statement that was issued by the honourable minister of Information and Broadcasting. Whether this speculation is taking place as far as I am concerned it is neither here nor there.

What is important is that there is official statement issued by the relevant minister for avoidance of doubt the Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

As regards the second factual issue, this of course has been a subject of points of order several times.

I have ruled on this subject, my deputy equally in my absence has ruled on this subject and most recently there was a question during the Vice President's question and answer time.

The question was raised by the Honorable member for Muchinga and also followed up by another question followed up by Honourable MP for Keembe and the Vice President did indicate that in so far as that subject was concerned all communications will be issued, managed or handled by State House which is the current position so as and when need arises those communications will be made.

And earlier on I did indicate in my ruling that I will not compel anybody especially the Minister of Health and I have left that to his judgment and that aside I have also referred to a statement by His Excellency himself where he has said that he considers this subject as a matter of interest but an appropriate time he pointed out clearly that he was working.

Beyond that there was a point of order raised in my absence and the deputy speaker did indicate to the nation at large that the President was on a working holiday.

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