First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo told the National Assembly that there is no justification for Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo to apologise for labelling Parliament “childish”.
His position followed a request by Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Mark Botomani yesterday for an update on whether Parliament has asked the HRDC leadership to apologise for the description.
Kazombo, who was presiding over business in the National Assembly, said there was no evidence in Parliament that Mtambo made the remarks.
He said: “To begin with, in this House we have no evidence where Mr. Mtambo said the word ‘childish’.
“Secondly, in this House it is only members of Parliament who can come here and speak.”
Botomani said he asked the First Deputy Speaker’s office through relevant parliamentary committees to summon Mtambo to apologise for the ‘childish’ remarks he purportedly made after visiting Parliament last week.
Said the minister: “Honourable First Deputy Speaker, you will recall that on Wednesday last week I raised an issue where Timothy Mtambo of HRDC called you and your House childish.
“I did ask you chair, through the Speaker, that those remarks in my considered view were very unfortunate, uncalled for and, therefore, I suggested that you call Mr. Mtambo to come to any of your relevant committees to apologise for those sentiments.”
Mtambo and his vice-chairperson Gift Trapence caused a stir when they visited Parliament last Wednesday and sat in the visitors’ gallery to observe deliberations. However, their presence led to disruption of business as the government side alleged the duo, who have led a series of anti-government demonstrations, were a security threat.
Mtambo was not readily available for comment yesterday, but in an interview at Parliament Building last week, Trapence expressed disappointment with the turn of events, saying their constitutional rights to observe parliamentary business were being infringed. Despite the departure of the HRDC team, chaotic scenes continued prompting Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa to propose an early adjournment for that day.