Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mutati steps down as leader of opposition

Mutati steps down as leader of opposition
By Ernest Chanda and Kombe Chimpinde
Sat 23 June 2012, 13:25 CAT

LUNTE MMD member of parliament Felix Mutati has resigned as leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, citing politics of polarisation in the party. The MMD currently falls short of the required numbers to be recognised as the official opposition in the House.

At the moment a political party is required to have 53 seats in order to lead the opposition in the National Assembly.

After losing three seats through parliamentary petitions and the death of former vice-president and Muchinga MMD member of parliament George Kunda, the MMD has remained with 51 seats.

On Wednesday, Copperbelt minister Davies Mwila raised a point of order on whether Mutati should continue as leader of the opposition since their numbers had reduced, and Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini reserved ruling in the matter until after next month's parliamentary by-elections.

But Mutati yesterday said he had stepped down because of schemes by his colleagues in the party to oust him from the position.

"Over the past few months, some of my fellow members of Parliament have been going around collecting signatures with the view to petition the party to have me removed as leader of opposition in Parliament. I believe in the unity of the MMD and would not wish to be a divisive element in the party," Mutati said in a statement yesterday.

"I have been a loyal member of our beloved party for over 10 years and endeavoured to deliver service to the general membership and the nation at large to the best of my abilities. In the course of my duty, I may have made mistakes but these were not intentional. There always comes a time to step aside and that hour has come for me to gracefully step down as leader of the opposition in Parliament with immediate effect. I request that the national secretary of our party moves to inform the Speaker of the National Assembly on this development."

Mutati who showed gratitude to his supporters in the party said he believed in politics of upliftment.

"Lastly, being committed to the founding ideals of the MMD which I shall always cherish, I have held as my ideal that politics of insistence and polarisation should not take centre-stage in the party," stated Mutati.

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