Friday, January 23, 2009

MPs expelled from their parties shouldn’t lose their seats – NCC

MPs expelled from their parties shouldn’t lose their seats – NCC
Written by Katwishi Bwalya
Friday, January 23, 2009 7:15:20 AM

THE Legislative Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has adopted a proposal that members of parliament expelled from their political parties should not lose their seats in the House.

And in the executive committee, Medical Association of Zambia president Dr Swebby Macha proposed that a former president who has been convicted of a criminal offence should not be entitled to his gratuity. During the ongoing debates yesterday, the Legislative Committee resolved that parliamentarians expelled by their parties should instead remain in the House as independent members of parliament.

The committee members argued that the move would help protect members of parliament from being victimised by political parties.

The members also argued that the move would help to reduce on the unnecessary by-elections.

And in the Executive Committee, Dr Macha proposed that a former president convicted of crime should lose his gratuity.

"There is need to protect the integrity in the Office of the President, because if we start awarding criminals that will be very bad. Yes, we can give him pension but not the gratuity," Dr Macha submitted.

But Southern Province minister Daniel Munkombwe opposed the idea saying it would discriminate against a former head of state.

"People are sent to prison to reform but if you go ahead to even take away the gratuity which they worked for that is very unfair," Munkombwe said.

He was supported by Chipangali MMD member of parliament Vincent Mwale who said the stripping of immunity of a former head of state was enough punishment.

UPND vice-president Ben Kapita said it was not fair to punish someone twice.

"If someone has worked for the money why should you get that away from them? They worked for the money and they should get it," Kapita said.

The Executive Committee also rejected the establishment of the Emoluments Commission to determine salaries and allowances for the president and other constitutional office bearers, saying that would be costly on government.

But Chifunabuli PF member of parliament Ernest Mwansa argued that there was need to set up the commission to allow Parliament not to debate itself.

Munkombwe submitted that the country had too many commissions and that creating another one would lead to increased expenditure.

"Already there is too much talk that we reduce the number of ministries and now you are talking about setting up a commission that will be too much for the country," said Munkombwe.

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