Saturday, March 15, 2008

PF leaders risk being cited for contempt, warns Machungwa

PF leaders risk being cited for contempt, warns Machungwa
By Lambwe Kachali and Patson Chilemba
Saturday March 15, 2008 [03:00]

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) Luapula member of parliament Peter Machungwa has warned that his party leaders risk being cited for contempt of court should it go ahead to expel six parliamentarians. The six members of parliament are Saviour Chishimba (Kasama Central), Faustina Sinyangwe (Matero), Reverend Sampa Bredt (Chawama), Marjory Masiye (Mufulira), Percy Chanda (Kankoyo) and Barnabas Chellah for Wusakile Constituency.

The six will appear before the PF central committee today to answer charges of resignation from the party. Machungwa, who is spokesperson for PF members participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), said party leaders should know that the targeted parliamentarians obtained an injunction restraining the party from expelling them.

“I don’t think our party would like to experience that (contempt of court), because it will show that the party is not obeying the law of the land. I think it would be unfortunate because one might be arrested for contempt,” he said.

Machungwa said the party should be frank enough by stating that the members were facing expulsion for participating in the NCC rather than raise trumped up charges against them.

“How come there are no charges against any member who is not attending the NCC?” asked Machungwa.

Chanda said the party was engaging into a long legal battle that would go beyond 2011.

Chanda said he was not surprised over the allegations because the party had been planning to do so immediately he went to the NCC.

He said he was ready to challenge the party’s decision should he be expelled.

“I have got evidence right from my constituency where PF officials had a meeting, saying that they should look for cases against me.

People are ready to come and testify in the courts of law. So it is not a simple matter. In this meeting, provincial and district officials categorically said that we have won the matter about participating in the NCC but now officials should look for other charges to rely on.

I have got people who will testify in the court, so I am not even worried, let them just go ahead,” said Chanda.

Masiye said whoever was fighting her for no cause would be fighting against God.

She said she was not worried about what her party might decide.
Masiye said PF members used to be very good “buddies”, until others chose to obey the law by participating in the NCC.

According to the letters dated March 14, 2008 addressed to the six members parliament, party secretary general Edward Mumbi directed them to appear before the committee in person.

Mumbi in an interview later said the committee would make the final decision over the matter.

He said it was sad that some party members were misbehaving instead of building and preparing the party for the 2011 crucial general elections.

He said PF was a respected party and would not condone any misbehavior especially from members of parliament.

Mumbi said serious measures would be taken to any members who disobeyed the party constitution.

And PF president Michael Sata said any measure that would be slapped on the six offenders would be welcomed by the party.

Asked why the party had chosen to discipline only six when many members of parliament especially those participating in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) withdrew their subscription from the party, Sata responded: “If you belong to a club, you pay membership fee and subscription fee.

Now if the top leadership i that club insult you or use strong language on you, do you have to withdraw your money? If you withdraw then you are telling everyone that you have resigned to that club and so you are no longer a member of that club. The same applies to these MPs. They are no longer members of PF,” he said.

Reminded that the members of parliament stopped contributing because he told them that he did not want their “blood money”, Sata said the excuse was unfounded and inconceivable.

“All I can tell you is that wait for tomorrow (today) and the central committee will make a final decision. Whatever decision will be passed, these people deserve it. Tomorrow everything will be laid bare. It will no longer be a secret,” said Sata.

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