Ruling by the Hon. Madam First Deputy Speaker - On a Point of Order raised by Hon G G Nkombo, MP,Minister of Local Govt & Rural Development against Mr R C Mutale, MP for Chitambo, on whether he was in Order to remain in the House

I order Hon R C Mutale, MP, to go and stand behind the Bar of the House. I also instruct the Sergeant-At-Arms to take the Speaker’s mace and go and stand behind him. 
Hon Members will recall that on Thursday, 1st December, 2022, when the House was in Committee of Supply considering Head 76: Ministry of Youth, Sports and Arts, and Hon E Nkandu, Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts was on the Floor, Hon G G Nkombo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development raised a Point of Order. The Point of Order was against a Patriotic Front Member of Parliament and raised pursuant to Standing Order 226 which relates to challenging a decision of a presiding officer. In the Point of Order, Hon G G Nkombo, MP, enquired whether the Member was in order to remain in the Chamber in defiance of an order by the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker for him to leave the Chamber.
In his immediate response, the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker, sitting as the Chairperson of the Committee of Supply, reserved his ruling to enable him study the matter. I have since studied the matter, and will now render my ruling. 
Hon Members, I wish to state from the outset that Hon G G Nkombo, MP, did not mention the name of the Member against whom the Point of Order was raised. I, however, had recourse to the footage of the proceedings of the House for that day, which conclusively showed that the Member referred to in the Point of Order was Mr R C Mutale, Member of Parliament for Chitambo Constituency.
Therefore, in line with parliamentary practice and procedure, the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to Mr R C Mutale, MP, in order to get his side of the story. In response, Mr R C Mutale, MP, denied having challenged the decision of the Chairperson ordering him to leave the House. He stated that the verbatim record did not show the Chairperson mention his name or constituency when he made the order. He added that had the Chairperson been referring to him, he would have called him by name as required by Standing Order 204. He further submitted that the verbatim record also showed that Hon G G Nkombo. MP, did not mention his name when raising his Point of Order. 
Hon Members, as earlier indicated, I had an opportunity to view the relevant video footage which showed the circumstances that gave rise to the Point of Order. Prior to the Point of Order being raised and while, Hon E Nkandu, MP, was on the Floor, the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker asked Mr R C Mutale, MP, to leave the Chamber for debating while seated. Instead of abiding by the directive, Mr R C Mutale, MP, remained in his seat, and the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker called upon Hon E Nkandu, MP, to resume his debate. Approximately five (5) minutes later, while Hon E Nkandu, MP, was still on the Floor, Hon G G Nkombo, MP raised the Point of Order. While Hon G G Nkombo, MP was still raising his Point of Order, Mr R C Mutale, MP, rose and walked out of the Chamber. This sequence of events clearly shows that it was Mr R C Mutale, MP, who had defiantly disregarded the Hon Second Deputy’s Speaker’s order for him to leave the Chamber. In fact, the Hon Member remained seated in his seat for more than five (5) minutes after he had been ordered to leave the Chamber. He was only prompted to leave once Hon G G Nkombo raised his Point of Order.
Hon Members, the Point of Order by Hon G G Nkombo, MP, raises the issue of a Member showing disrespect to a Presiding Officer by defying his directive to leave the Chamber.
Section 19 (d) and (e) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Cap 12 of the Laws of Zambia is instructive in this regard. It provides as follows:
“19. Any person shall be guilty of an offence who-…
(d) shows disrespect in speech or manner towards the Speaker; or
(e) commits any other act of intentional disrespect to or with reference to the proceedings of the Assembly or of a committee of the Assembly or to any person presiding at such proceedings.” 
Additionally, Standing Order 205 (a) of the National Assembly of Zambia Standing Orders, 2021, is also instructive. It states as follows:
 “205. A member commits an act of gross disorderly conduct if the member –
(a) defies a ruling or direction of a presiding officer;...”
Further, eminent authors on parliamentary practice and procedure, M N Kaul and S L Shakdher, in their book entitled Practice and Procedure of Parliament, Seventh Edition, (New Delhi, Lok Sabha, 2016) on page 303, have this to say:
“Disobedience to the orders of the House, whether such orders are of general application or require a particular individual to do or abstain from doing a particular act is a contempt of the House. Disobedience to the orders of a Committee of the House is treated as a contempt of the House itself, provided the order disobeyed is within the scope of the Committee’s authority. To prevent, delay, obstruct or interfere with the execution of the orders of the House or a Committee thereof is also a contempt of the House. Examples of contempt are – 
… neglecting or refusing to withdraw from the House when directed to do so.”
Hon Members, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Dr Patrick Matibini, SC, had occasion to consider a similar matter in the case of Brian Mundubile v Gary Nkombo (National Assembly Parliamentary Debates of 12th November, 2019). In that matter Hon Brian M Mundubile, MP, Government Chief Whip, as he then was, lodged a complaint against Mr G G Nkombo, MP, for his disrespectful conduct towards the then First Deputy Speaker, Hon Catherine Namugala, MP, sitting as Chairperson of the Committee of Supply. The matter was referred to the Committee on Privileges, Absences and Support Services. After due consideration and due to the gravity of the complaint against Mr G G Nkombo, MP, the House resolved to suspend him from the House for a period of ten (10) days. 
From the foregoing authorities, it is clear that, by remaining in the Chamber after the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker had ordered him to leave, Mr R C Mutale, MP defied an order of a presiding officer. This conduct went against the dignity, integrity and decorum of the House, and amounted to a breach of parliamentary privilege and contempt of the House.
In considering the punishment to mete out to Mr R C Mutale, MP, I took into account the fact that he had committed gross disorderly conduct. I further noted the precedent where such misconduct carried the sanction of suspension. I further noted that, in his response, Mr R C Mutale, MP, had not shown any remorse for his conduct, but instead denied having defied the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker’s directive. 
I, however, considered that he is a first offender, and that the video footage showed that he subsequently obeyed the order of the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker to leave the House. Consequently, I have decided to exercise leniency and reprimand Mr R C Mutale, MP, at the Bar of the Assembly in accordance with section 28(1) (c) of the National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act.
I now turn to address Mr R C Mutale, MP. 
Mr Mutale, MP, your decision to defy the Hon Mr Second Deputy Speaker’s order for you to leave the Chamber amounted  to showing intentional disrespect towards a presiding officer, which is a breach of parliamentary privilege and contempt of the House. Such conduct is unbefitting of a Member of Parliament. Further, as a senior Member of this August House, who once served as Deputy Chief Whip, you ought to know that this is a House of honour, decorum and dignity, and, as such, your conduct ought to be exemplary and above reproach. Ordinarily, your conduct would have attracted a more severe punishment, but, since you left the House upon the Point of Order being raised, I have elected to exercise leniency on you.  I wish to reiterate that I will not tolerate gross indiscipline and misconduct from you or indeed, any Member of this House.  The honour, decorum and dignity of the House must be protected and preserved at all times.  I do trust that you will reflect seriously on your conduct and, in future, desist from conduct unbefitting a Member of the House. 
I now order you, Mr R C Mutale, MP, to read your apology and, thereafter, resume your seat.
Ruling Date: 
Wednesday, March 15, 2023