In a recent press briefing, Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa, MP, the Minister of Information and Media and Chief Government Spokesperson, addressed several important national issues.
The briefing covered various government actions and concerns and provided insights into recent developments.
Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa said that the government has taken a significant step toward enacting the Access to Information Act by presenting the Access to Information Bill to Parliament.
This move follows Cabinet approval in principle, which was granted on August 30st, 2023. The Access to Information Act is aimed at promoting transparency and public access to information, a crucial aspect of good governance.
In a demonstration of collaboration and inclusiveness, Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa called for the support and input of stakeholders who may be invited to the National Assembly as witnesses.
Their contributions will help shape the final version of the Access to Information Act, emphasizing the government’s commitment to involving the public and relevant parties in the legislative process.
The suspension of 19 Members of Parliament by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nelly Mutti, was explained by Hon. Mweetwa.
He clarified that such suspensions are part of standard parliamentary practices and are aligned with the resolution of the Committee.
An example provided was the suspension of 30 UPND Members of Parliament when they were in the opposition, a consequence of their absence during a Presidential address.
Contrary to claims made by some members of the opposition Patriotic Front, Hon. Mweetwa pointed out that there was no extraordinary presence of state police at Parliament.
Instead, only the usual Parliament police were deployed, dispelling concerns of over-policing at the parliamentary premises.
Addressing the topic of the impeachment of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Mweetwa highlighted the constitutional requirements.
Impeaching the Speaker necessitates a two-thirds majority, which translates to 110 Members of Parliament. As of the briefing, the Patriotic Front had fewer than 60 members in the house, falling short of the required number for an impeachment motion to succeed.
Additionally, he noted that no ruling party members support the impeachment of the Speaker.
A leadership change in the opposition was also discussed. The Speaker was officially informed by Mr. Ngona, the registered Secretary General of the Patriotic Front, about the election of Mr. Robert Chabinga, MP, as the new Leader of the Opposition, replacing Mr. Brian Mundubile MP. Hon. Mweetwa emphasized that this transition adhered to the constitutional provisions.
The government refuted allegations that it played a role in the internal turmoil within the Patriotic Front, dismissing such claims as unreasonable and baseless.
Finally, Hon. Mweetwa underlined the government’s commitment to upholding human rights and civil liberties as guaranteed by the country’s Constitution.
Key principles include the restoration of the rule of law, equal treatment of all citizens before the law, and the recognition of human rights.