By Paul Shalala
The Second Meeting of the Fourth Session of the Eleventh National Assembly opens in Lusaka tomorrow with a lot of visible changes in terms of numbers and sitting arrangement following nullification of seats, a presidential election and the selection of a new Cabinet from within the house.
The house opens shortly after the January 20 Presidential Election which saw then Chawama Member of Parliament Edgar Lungu take on the mantle to lead the nation until the next scheduled General Elections somewhere in 2016.
As the house opens, the house will have a new leader in the name of Inonge Wina, Zambia’s first ever female Republican Vice President.
As leader of Government Business in the house, Mrs Wina, who is also Nalolo Member of Parliament, will be on the receiving end of the 30 minutes Vice President’s Question Time every Friday morning as opposition MPs and ruling party backbenchers ask her questions of national interest.
Mrs Wina, who in the last meeting of Parliament sat on on the front row near the alley way as Gender Minister, will now move closer to the Speaker on the right and sit in between the Ministers of Justice and Finance to lead government affairs in the house.
|Dr. Guy Scott|
With the dissolution of the Michael Sata-appointed Cabinet and the swearing in of the new one, MPs who are now serving in Cabinet will change seats to occupy their new statuses in the house while those who have maintained their Cabinet portfolios will remain in their usual seats.
Significant among the new entrants to the Speaker’s right on the front seats are Chipili MP Davies Mwila who will move from the backbench to the front bench and seat to the left side of the Vice President.
Kabwata MP Given Lubinda will also move from the backbench to sit on the Speaker’s left side front row to occupy his seat as Agriculture Minister.
Zambezi West MP Christabel Ngimbu, who is just five months old in the house, will leave her seat at the backbench and move to the Speaker’s right handside and occupy her front row seat as Lands Minister.
Opposition MMD lawmakers Vincent Mwale of Chipangali and Dr. Michael Kaingu of Mwandi will cross the floor from the Speaker’s left to the right to occupy their front row seats as they are now serving as Sports Minister and Education Minister respectively.
Nominated MP Margaret Mwanakatwe, who is now Commerce Minister, will also join the right side of the Speaker and she will seat with her Cabinet colleagues.
Another nominated MP Mulenga Sata will seat in the middle seats of the Speaker’s right following his appointment as State House Deputy Minister.
Missing in the Cabinet seats will be Lusaka Central MP Dr. Guy Scott, Bwana Mkubwa MP Emmanuel Chenda, Mpika Central MP Mwansa Kapeya and Nchanga MP Wylbur Simusa who lost their cabinet portfolio.
The quartet will now seat at the backbench since they are now ordinary MPs.
In the middle seats of the Speaker’s right will be new entrants. This is the row that seats Deputy Ministers.
Some of the new entrants are Lupososhi MP Bwalya Chungu (Office of the Vice President Deputy Minister) and Kaputa MP Maxas Ngonga (Agriculture Deputy Minister).
Lukashya MP Elfreda Kansembe (Labour Deputy Minister) and Pambashe MP Ronald Chitotela (Sports Deputy Minister) also make a return to the middle seats after they were dismissed by late President Sata in 2014 as Home Affairs Deputy Minister and Labour Deputy Minister respectively.
UPND Solwezi Central MP Dawson Kafwaya and PF Mkushi South MP will also leave the backbench to seat on the Provincial Ministers seats following their swearing in this month.
These two men were elected MPs last year on 11 September during parliamentary by-elections and they are serving as ministers for the first time.
Mufumbwe MP Steven Masumba is expected to make a come back in the house following his pardon by then Acting President Dr. Guy Scott.
Mr Masumba was jailed by the Lusaka Magistrates Court for forging a Diploma but he walked out of the Lusaka Central Prison (Chimbokaila) after Dr. Scott used the prerogative of mercy to release Mr Masumba together with People’s Democratic Party President George Mpombo in December 2014.
Missing from the house will be Daniel Munkombwe who lost his nomination as MP after President Lungu revoked it for supporting UPND President Hakainde Hichilema during this year’s presidential election.
Chisamba MP Moses Muteteka will also be missing from the house as he is still waiting for the courts to rule on his appeal to a jail sentence following his guilty verdict in a motor vehicle case.
For obvious reasons, there wont be an MP from Chawama as the incumbent is now the head of state.
Following the adjournment of parliamentary sittings in December last year, two parliamentary seats have been nullified and these are Masaiti which was held by MMD’s Michael Katambo and Senga Hill which was held by MMD’s Kapembwa Simbao.
The two seats will remain vacant when parliament opens tomorrow just.
Other seats which will not be occupied tomorrow in the house are Malambo, Mulobezi and Petauke Central which are still awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether the previous MPs whose election was nullified can recontest the seats.