Saturday, August 07, 2010

Kunda justifies removal of ‘abuse of office’

Kunda justifies removal of ‘abuse of office’
By Ernest Chanda
Sat 07 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT

VICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda yesterday justified government’s intention to remove abuse of office offence from the revised Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act by stating in parliament that they want to avoid duplication of offences.

And parliament has suspended Kafulafuta MMD parliamentarian George Mpombo for one week over his alleged disparaging remarks against Vice-President George Kunda.

Responding to a question during the Vice-President’s question time from Zambezi West UPND parliamentarian Charles Kakoma who wanted to know if cabinet had decided whether or not to remove abuse of office offense from the revised ACC Act and when the bill would be presented to parliament, Vice-President Kunda said it was the prerogative of government to determine where the offence would be placed.

He said government wants laws that are in accordance with principles of justice.

“I can confirm that we are reforming the law on the fight against corruption. And one of the laws under review is the Anti Corruption Commission Act. We have revised the law on whistle blowers and many others, and now it’s time to move to the ACC Act. As for abuse of office offence it exists even in the Penal Code,” Vice-President Kunda said.

“So, you can see that we want to avoid duplication of offences. But I can assure that abuse of office will continue to be an offence. As for where it will be placed, that is our prerogative as government. We want to update our laws so that they are consistent. We want laws which are in accordance with principles of justice and are acceptable to commonwealth standards.”

And when asked by Roan Patriotic Front parliamentarian Chishimba Kambwili why government had insisted on buying mobile hospitals against professional advise from medical practitioners, Vice President Kunda claimed that Zambians had supported the move.

“The people of Zambia have overwhelmingly supported the procurement of mobile hospitals. And we shall go ahead with the procurement so that we can serve our people well,” he said.

Asked by Nchanga PF parliamentarian Wylbur Simuusa what kind of support President Rupiah Banda rendered to Malawian President Bingu Wamutarika for him to win that country’s Presidential election, Vice-President Kunda said it was nothing more than moral support.

And Mpombo who was absent from the House will only serve a one-week sentence when the next sitting of parliament resumes, instead of the initial two months as recommended by the parliamentary committee on privileges, absences and support services.

According to Chongo’s complaint, Mpombo is alleged to have described Vice-President Kunda as the most stupid Vice-President the country has ever had, in an article published in The Post of July 5, 2010.

Mpombo was commenting on Vice-President Kunda’s threat of imprisonment in parliament on Katuba MMD parliamentarian Jonas Shakafuswa when the latter questioned government’s motive to remove abuse of office offence from the revised ACC Act.

And on July 7, 2010, Mwense ‘rebel’ PF parliamentarian Jacob Chongo
rose on a point of order, wanting to know if Mpombo was in order to use abusive language against the leader of government business in the House.

Delivering judgment, Nalumango further ordered Mpombo to apologise to the House.

“In this regard, the committee resolved that Mr G Mpombo, MP, was guilty of breaching parliamentary privileges etiquette, and was in contempt of the House and, recommended that the Hon member be suspended from service of the House for a period of two (2) months in accordance with the provisions section 28 (1) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Cap 12 of the Laws of Zambia,” Nalumango ruled.

“The House may however wish to know that due to the fact that parliament shall be prorogued after the House adjourns sine die today, Mr G Mpombo, MP, shall only be suspended for a period of one (1) week. This is inline with the proviso in section 28 of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Chapter 12 of the Laws of Zambia, which places a restriction on the power of the National Assembly to suspend a member from the service of House.”

Parliament has since adjourned sine die.

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