The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has tipped Zambian legislators to choose national interest over those of their political parties while they discharge their Parliamentary mandate.
Kadaga, who is in Lusaka at the invitation of her counterpart, Mr Patrick Matibini to conduct MPs on formulating their rules of procedure, known as the Standing Orders said the choice is always clear as the people’s interest reigns supreme.
“You should ask yourself what is in the public interest? Between what your party is asking you to do and what the public interest is and take a choice,” she said.
Making reference to the famous case of the so called rebel MPs who were expelled from the ruling National Resistance Movement, Kadaga said the law had to prevail above party interests, a practice she urged the Southern African nation to emulate.
“In our Constitution, the reasons for withdrawing a member are clearly stipulated; these members were being recalled because they went to the radios to complain about the inadequacy of the health budget,” she said.
“When they wrote to me, I refused to expel them so they took me to court and I defeated them because the Constitution is clear,” she added.
The Speaker of the Zimababwe National Assembly Mr Jacob Mudenda agreed with Kadaga, saying MPs no longer represent the interests of a particular political party but that they must advance the agenda of their electorates.
“The discussions are that now, the issue of protecting the MPs to speak from their passions must be embedded in the privileges and immunities…so that when a member disagrees with their political party they don’t suffer from recall by their political party; they are free to speak from the conviction of their conscience,” he said.
Kadaga advised the Zambians to empower their committee systems, which they said is a good avenue where the interests of the electorates are exhaustively handled.
National Assemblies, she said, do not just get their space in the political galaxy by the natural course of things, but that a Parliament elected by the people to advocate for their interests must be assertive and take care of the collective interests.
Kadaga said Parliaments ought to be strong so that the system of governance is balanced and strengthened.