Ruling On The Complaint By Hon S Kampyongo, Mp, Minister Of Home Affairs, Against Dr C Kambwili, Member Of Parliament For Roan Parliamentary Constituency, On The Allegation By Dr Kambwili, Mp, That Hon S Kampyongo, Mp, Then Minister Of Local Government, R


I wish to inform Hon Members that on Wednesday, 8th November, 2017, the Office of the Speaker received a letter of complaint from Hon S Kampyongo, MP, Minister of Home Affairs against Dr C Kambwili, MP.


The complaint alleged that on Tuesday, 19th September, 2017, when the House was considering a Ministerial Statement presented by the Minister of Local Government, Hon Vincent Mwale, MP, Dr C Kambwili, MP, alleged that Hon Kampyongo, MP, while serving as Minister of Local Government, corruptly received three (3) motor vehicles from Mr Bokani Soko as gratification for awarding Mr Soko’s company, Grandview International, a contract to supply forty-two (42) fire trucks to the Government.


In his letter, the Hon Minister made reference to Standing Order 53(1) of the National Assembly Standing Orders, 2016, which requires Members to ensure that any information they provide to the House is factual and verifiable. In addition, the Hon Minister stated that from the time Dr C Kambwili, MP, made the allegation, he had failed to provide any evidence to substantiate his claim. The Hon Minister further submitted that the utterances by Dr C Kambwili, MP, had the effect of injuring his reputation as he was now considered as a corrupt person who was not fit to hold public office.


The following is an excerpt from the Parliamentary Debate of 19th September, 2017, of Dr C Kambwili, MP’s debate, that gave rise to the complaint:


“Mr Speaker, the Government experienced a severe recession in 2015. Was it important to procure forty-two fire engines worth US$42 million when our economy was in dire stress?


Sir, further, is the hon. Minister aware that the person who was the hon Minister of Local Government at the time received three vehicles from Mr Bokani Soko?


The Minister received a Toyota Hilux 2016, a Range Rover Vogue and a Toyota ZX, which was later involved in an accident.” 


In line with parliamentary practice and procedure, and in accordance with the rules of natural justice, the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to Dr C Kambwili, MP, requesting him to state his side of the story regarding the complaint lodged by Hon S Kampyongo, MP.


In response, Dr C Kambwili, MP, stated that he would not comment on the matter as it was under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission and that the evidence of the alleged corruption could not be adduced to anybody who was not mandated to investigate corruption.  ]He, however, admitted that he made the alleged statement in the House based on information he had. He further stated that he did it in the public interest, and in exercise of his privilege as a Member of Parliament. He added that the Hon Minister of Home Affairs never disputed his involvement in the purchase of the fire tenders and had never publicly denied it.  He then counter-alleged that the complaint by the Hon Minister of Home Affairs was an attempt to stifle his privilege.


Hon Members, I accordingly referred the matter to the Committee on Privileges, Absences and Support Services for consideration.


The complaint raises the issue of a member’s freedom of speech and debate in the House vis-à-vis his or her duty to ensure that the information he or she provides to the House is factual, verifiable and substantiated.


The relevant authorities on the matter are as set out below.


Article 76 (1) of the Constitution of Zambia Act, Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia, provides as follows:


“76. (1) A Member of Parliament has freedom of speech and debate in the National Assembly and that freedom shall not be ousted or questioned in a court or tribunal.”


Further, M N Kaul and S L Shakdher, in their book entitled Practice and Procedure of Parliament, Seventh Edition, (New Delhi, Lok Sabha, 2016) on pages 244-255, state:


“Speech and action in Parliament may be said to be unquestioned and free. However, this freedom from external influence or interference does not involve any unrestrained licence of speech within the walls of the House.  The right to freedom of speech is circumscribed by the constitutional provisions and the Rules which also guard against making of unwarranted allegations against a person.”


Additionally, Standing Order 53 (1) of the National Assembly of Zambia Standing Orders, 2016 states:


“A member shall, in debating any matter, ensure that the information he or she provides to the House is factual and verifiable.”


Further, Hon Members, Chapter 3 of the National Assembly Members’ Handbook 2006 on “Rules of Debate” states at page 13 that:


“Members must not allege specific matters of fact as being true unless they are able to substantiate them.”


The Committee considered the complaint and both Hon Kampyongo, MP, Minister of Home Affairs, and Dr Kambwili, MP, appeared before it.  Hon Kampyongo re-stated his complaint. He further informed the Committee that, in declaring his assets, as required by law, he had not included the said motor vehicles and that, in this regard, the allegation suggested that he had breached the law.  He emphasised that he took great exception to the allegations.


In response, Dr Kambwili, MP, insisted that his allegations were factual and that he had evidence that the Hon Minister received gratification from Grandview International. However, when he was requested to present the evidence to the Committee, Dr Kambwili, MP, reiterated his position that he could not give the Committee evidence regarding the allegations because the mandate to investigate the matter lay in the Anti-Corruption Commission and not the National Assembly.  He advised the Committee to, in this regard, deal with him as it deemed fit. As a matter of fact, he informed the Committee that he stood ready to suffer the consequences of his non-production of the evidence to prove the allegations.


The Committee, upon deliberation on the matter, found that although Dr Kambwili, MP insisted that the allegations were true, he had failed to adduce evidence to substantiate his allegations against Hon Kampyongo, MP. In this regard, the Committee found that Dr Kambwili, MP’s defiance to produce the evidence as required by Standing Order 53 (1) amounted to a breach of the Standing Order and therefore that he was guilty of breach of parliamentary privilege for making a false statement on the floor of the House.


The Committee noted that the offence was very serious and resolved that Dr Kambwili, MP, be reprimanded.


Hon Members, before I address Dr Kambwili, MP, allow me to emphasise the position regarding members’ privilege of freedom of speech. In so doing, I wish to draw your attention to the case of R Musokotwane v Hon M L Kaingu. In that case, Hon M L Kaingu raised a Point of Order on the Floor of the House accusing Mrs R Musokotwane of requesting him to remove some settlers from Sichufulo Game Management Area, which was in her constituency. As it turned out, that statement was false. The Hon Member was found in breach of parliamentary privilege for making a false statement on the Floor of the House and was admonished by the House. In rendering a ruling on the matter, my predecessor stated (Parliamentary Debates of the Third Meeting of the First Session of the Ninth national Assembly, 16th January to 27th March, 2009), at page 3111, as follows:


“Hon Members, while freedom of speech and action in the House are said to be unquestioned and free, there are certain restraints on the use of the right within the walls of the House. The rules of the House demand that any information provided to the House must be factual. It is an offence punishable by the House for any person to willfully mislead the House.”


Hon Members, evidently, by his defence and counter-claim that Hon Kampyongo, MP’s, Point of Order was an attempt to stifle his privilege, Dr Kambwili, MP, was operating under the mistaken belief that the freedom of speech of members was limitless. However, as was clearly illustrated in the case of Hon Kaingu and Mrs Musokotwane, the freedom is not unlimited, but subject to the rules of the House.


I will now address Dr C Kambwili, MP in absentia.


The House is extremely displeased with your conduct of making allegations on the floor of the House and then failing to adduce evidence to substantiate them.  The privilege of freedom of speech is there to ensure that Members debate freely without any fear of reprisals.  This privilege, however, is not unlimited as it requires the information you bring to the floor of the House to be factual and verifiable.  Dr Kambwili, MP, as a senior member of this House, you are expected to know that anything you say on the Floor of the House is factual and verifiable. You cannot, therefore, without evidence, wantonly make unfounded and unwarranted allegations against persons and then plead the privilege of freedom of speech.


The rules and procedures the House has put in place are intended to ensure Members only bring to the House information that is factual and verifiable. This is intended to ensure that the House and the public at large are not misled. You cannot, therefore, use the Floor of the House to damage other people’s reputations and then plead privilege.


I, therefore, now strongly reprimand you and direct you to desist from exhibiting such conduct in future.


Hon Members, as the House is aware, a Member who is reprimanded for breach of parliamentary privileges is required to apologise to the House.  In this regard, Dr Kambwili, MP, will render his apology to the House on the day he will be in the House.


I thank you.

Ruling Date: 
Wednesday, March 21, 2018