Wednesday, 8th July, 2020

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Wednesday, 8th July, 2020


The House met at 1430 hours


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]












Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, further to my announcement on Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020, regarding the establishment of a testing centre for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, I wish to remind the House that this facility is still open for hon. Members of Parliament and members of staff. In this regard, hon. Members and staff are urged to take maximum advantage of this facility to test for COVID-19. Please, note that the clinic is open between 0800 hours in the morning to 1700 hours in the afternoon, every working day.


I thank you.







Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, you will recall that on Thursday, 5th December, 2019, when the House was considering Estimates of Expenditure under Head 68: Ministry of Tourism and Art, and Prof. G. Lungwangwa, Member of Parliament for Nalikwanda Parliamentary Constituency was on the Floor, Hon. Dr M. Malama, Member of Parliament for Kanchibiya Parliamentary Constituency raised a point of order. The relevant excerpt of the point of order is as follows:


“Sir, in today’s Zambia Daily Mail newspaper, dated Thursday, 5th December, 2019, there is an article which reads: “MP dares UPND to discipline him.” Specifically, I will go to the paragraph which reads:


“It is not me alone to decide. The MPs have a leadership in Parliament, the Whips. So, we will seek their advice on what course of action to take. Mr Katuka said.”


“Mr Chairperson, it further reads:


‘However, the Leader of the Opposition in the House, Jack Mwiimbu, told journalists at Parliament yesterday that the UPND will not discipline the two MPs because they were exercising their rights they enjoy in the House.’


“Earlier it reads:


‘Mr Kasonso has warned that should UPND discipline him, he will deal with the party. They can go ahead and discipline me, if they so wish, and I will deal with UPND. He said.


‘Professor Lungwangwa was not available for comment.


‘Earlier, UPND Secretary-General, Steven Katuka, said the party will discipline the two for remaining in the House when their colleagues walked out.’”


“Mr Chairperson, Chapter 12 of the Laws of Zambia is very clear that these two Members of Parliament and all Members of Parliament, for that matter, have the right to express themselves and to be protected. Is the Secretary-General of the UPND in order to threaten Members of Parliament when they are exercising their role?”


In his immediate reaction to the point of order, the Hon. Second Deputy Speaker, sitting as Deputy Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole House, reserved his ruling in order to gather more information surrounding the matter. I have since investigated the matter and I am now ready to render the ruling.


Hon. Members, the point of order raises the question of an outsider intimidating or interfering with a Member in the performance of his/her duties as a Member of Parliament.


The relevant authorities in this ruling are as set out below.


The National Assembly (Powers and Privileges) Act, Chapter 12 of the Laws of Zambia, is instructive in this regard. Thus, in terms of Section 23 of the Act, it is an offence and serious breach of parliamentary etiquette for a person to threaten or deprive a Member of a benefit in the course of his/her duties. Section 23(e) is expressed in the following terms:


“Any person shall be guilty of an offence who – assaults, insults or threatens a member or deprives a member of a benefit on account of the member’s conduct in the Assembly or a committee.”


Further, prominent writers on parliamentary practice and procedure, Audrey O’Brien and Marc Bosc, in their book entitled House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, state as follows at page 108:


“Members are entitled to go about their parliamentary business undisturbed. The assaulting, menacing, or insulting of any Member on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament, is a violation of the rights of Parliament. Any form of intimidation of a person for or on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament could amount to contempt.”


Hon. Members, you may wish to note that the point of order is based on an article that was published in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper on Thursday, 5th December, 2019, under the caption, “MP dares UPND to discipline him”. Thus, 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 both Mr S. Katuka and the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper, requesting them to confirm whether or not the statements alleged to have been made by Mr S. Katuka in the article were correctly attributed to him.


  1. Response by the Managing Director of the Zambia Daily Mail Newspaper


The Managing Director of the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper confirmed that the alleged statement was correctly attributed to Mr S. Katuka as reported by Mr Steven Mvula, Senior Reporter, who talked to Mr Katuka in a telephone interview on 4th December, 2019;


  1. Response by Mr Stephen Katuka


In his response, Mr S. Katuka indicated that his party had a clear position about not interfering with the manner in which its members conducted themselves during parliamentary business. He further submitted that the party had also a clear position regarding certain Bills presented to Parliament without usurping the powers of Parliament. He also noted that he is a former senior parliamentarian, who had served the Zambian Parliament for period of ten years. Mr S. Katuka concluded by saying that the article in the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper was a misrepresentation of his interview with the newspaper.


Hon. Members, it is self-evident from the foregoing, that the responses by the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper, and Mr Katuka, are conflicted. In order to resolve this conflict of versions, the Office of the Clerk wrote to the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper requesting for a copy of the recording of the interview with Mr Katuka. In response, the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper informed the National Assembly, through the Office of the Clerk, that the recording had been inadvertently deleted, but still maintained, that the article was factual.


Hon. Members, since the point of order was based on a statement allegedly made by Mr Katuka which the newspaper alleges was obtained through an interview, and the said interview cannot be accessed in order to verify whether or not the statement was correctly attributed to Mr S. Katuka, it was difficult to arrive at a firm conclusion that the article was accurately attributed to Mr Katuka. Moreover, Mr Katuka alleged that the article was a misrepresentation of his interview with the newspaper. A recording of the interview, whether audio or video, would have certainly supplied conclusive evidence; not only that Mr Katuka was interviewed by the Zambia Daily Mail newspaper, but it would also have established the content of the interview. In the absence of such independent and cogent evidence proving that, indeed, Mr Katuka made the statement, I am constrained in holding Mr Katuka culpable of threatening the hon. Members as alleged. Consequently, I am also unable to conclude that Mr Katuka breached the Members’ privilege.


I thank you.









Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, before we proceed to consider this Motion on the Report of the Parliamentary Reforms and Modernisation Committee, I would like to provide some guidance. Article 89(2) of the Constitution of Zambia provides as follows:


“The National Assembly or a parliamentary committee shall not exclude the public or media from its sittings, unless there are justifiable reasons for the exclusion and the Speaker informs the public or media of the reasons.”


Hon. Members, the Parliamentary Reforms and Modernisation Committee is classified under the National Assembly of Zambia Standing Orders 2016, as a House Keeping Committee of the House. In this regard, Standing Order No. 152(1) and (8) provides as follows:


“(1)      There is hereby established, the Parliamentary Reforms and Modernisation Committee comprising the Second Deputy Speaker and nine other members appointed by the Standing Orders Committee.”


“(8)      The debate on the report of the Committee shall be held in camera.”


Hon. Members, the reason for this provision is that the Parliamentary Reforms and Modernisation Committee deals with in-house matters hinging on the powers, privileges, procedures and practices, organisation and facilities of the Assembly. It is in view of the foregoing that I direct that broadcasting of the proceedings on Parliament Radio and Television and other media be suspended during the debate on the report of the Committee.


I thank you.




Mr Speaker: I am informed that we are now off air.





Debate in camera from 1447 hours until 1550 hours.








Mr Mukosa (Chinsali): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to scrutinise the Presidential Appointment of Reverend Agness Chongo to serve as a Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission.


Mr Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?


Ms Katuta (Chienge): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.


Mr Mukosa: Sir, the appointment of Rev. Agness Chongo to serve as a Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission is made pursuant to Section 5 of the Human Rights Commission Act No. 39 of 1996 of the Laws of Zambia.


Mr Speaker, when scrutinising the appointment, the Committee noted that the Human Rights Commission is an integral part of Zambia’s democratic dispensation whose key mandate is to protect and promote human rights in Zambia in line with the Constitution, the Human Rights Commission Act and the Regional and International Human Rights Conventions and Protocols that Zambia has acceded to. In view of this, the Committee resolved that only a competent person with unquestionable integrity, diligence, eminence and sound character should be appointed as Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. The Committee further resolved that the person should also have good knowledge and experience in human rights issues so as to add value to the operations of the Human Rights Commission in its promotion and protection of human rights.


Sir, the Committee carefully selected the witnesses to assist it to scrutinise the suitability of the nominee. The Committee requested memoranda from relevant State security agencies, professional bodies and other stakeholders and the appointing authority. The witnesses also appeared before the Committee to make their oral submissions. Further, the Committee interviewed the nominee and carefully scrutinised her curriculum vitae.


Mr Speaker, the Committee notes with satisfaction that all the State security agencies indicated that there were no adverse security concerns against the nominee. Additionally, the other stakeholders generally submitted that the nominee was suitably qualified and possessed the requisite experience to be appointed Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. In this regard, they supported her appointment.


Sir, the Committee notes that the nominee is the Executive Director of the Heart of Mercy Orphanage and has participated in various programmes involving vulnerable women and underprivileged children. This aspect has given her exposure to the promotion of human rights. In this regard, the Committee is satisfied that the nominee possesses the requisite qualifications, experience and skills to competently discharge her duties as Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission.


Mr Speaker, the Committee notes that there were some concerns by some stakeholders that the nominee lacked a background in human rights and that she did not possess the qualifications for the position of a commissioner. The Committee notes that human rights emanate from the Law of God (Lex Divina) and the fact that the nominee was a religious minister entailed that she is suitably qualified to be appointed Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. The Committee further notes that although Section 5 of the Human Rights Commission Act sets qualifications for the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson, there are no qualifications stated for commissioners. Considering the important role that commissioners of the Human Rights Commission play, there is a need for the law to be amended to provide for qualifications for the position of commissioner.


Sir, the Committee further notes the concern by some stakeholders that there is already a member of the clergy serving as a Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. In this regard, the Committee, therefore, recommends that in future, nominees should be drawn from various professions and backgrounds as there is a need for diversity among the commissioners. This will ensure that persons of different qualifications, experience and with different skills and mindsets comprise the membership of the Human Rights Commission.


Mr Speaker, the Committee, after due and thorough consideration, analysis and evaluation of the written and oral submissions presented to it by witnesses and the nominee herself, is of the considered view that the nominee is suitably qualified and possesses the requisite competencies to serve as Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. In view of this, the Committee recommends that this august House ratifies the presidential appointment of Rev. Agness Chongo as Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission.


Sir, finally, the members of the Committee wish to place on record their gratitude to you for appointing them to serve on this Select Committee. The Committee is also thankful for the services and advice rendered to it by the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly during its deliberations. The Committee further wishes to thank the State security and investigative agencies and other stakeholder institutions for their valuable submissions that assisted it to arrive at its recommendation.


Mr Speaker, it is now my pleasure to call upon the House to ratify the appointment before it.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Does the seconder wish to speak now or later?


Ms Katuta: Now, Sir.


Mr Speaker, I thank you most sincerely for according me this opportunity to second this Motion. I also thank the mover for competently moving the Motion. The mover has already covered all the notable points upon which the Committee supported the ratification of the nominee to serve as a Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission. Therefore, I shall only say a few words as I second this Motion.


Sir, I wish to highlight a very important observation made by the Committee. The Committee notes that Article 259 of the Constitution of Zambia requires that


“1    Where a person is empowered to make a nomination or an appointment to a public office, that person shall ensure– ...


“(b)     that fifty per cent of each gender is nominated or appointed from the total available positions, unless it is not practicable to do so.”


Mr Speaker, I would like to bring it to the attention of the House that the Committee observed that there are more male commissioners than female commissioners in the Human Rights Commission. In view of the foregoing, the Committee commends the appointing authority for complying with Article 259 of the Constitution of Zambia. The Committee, however, urges the appointing authority to, in future, consider the youths and persons with disabilities for such appointments.


Sir, as I conclude, I would like to extend my gratitude to the Chairperson of the Committee for the deep, impartial and just manner in which he presided over the meetings and deliberations of the Committee. I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to all the members of the Committee for the objectivity, professionalism and unity that they exhibited during the Committee’s deliberations.


Mr Speaker, with those few words, I thank you.


Mr Mwiimbu (Monze Central): Mr Speaker, thank you for according me this opportunity to debate the appointment of the would-be Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission.


Mr Speaker, I would like to confess that I have had no interaction with the nominee and I will, therefore, not comment much on her qualification pertaining to this particular appointment. However, I would like to comment on the roles she will play when the House ratifies her as Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission.


Mr Speaker, the Human Rights Commission is a very important institution in this country which strives to protect the rights of individuals. As I debate, I would like to mention that on several occasions, on the Floor of this House, whenever we are debating the Vote and the appointments of commissioners, we have lamented the failure by the Government of day to implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission. We have also lamented that the Human Rights Commission is an institution that has no teeth to bite. It merely makes recommendations that can only be implemented at the behest of those in authority. If they do not want to implement whatever recommendations, they can brush them aside and the recommendations will not be implemented.


Mr Speaker, as a country, we have, of late, witnessed gross violations of the rights of individuals in this country and members of the public have been lamenting this and complaining to the authorities to ensure that the rights of individuals are protected. Therefore, I implore the nominee who is going to be appointed or ratified to take note of the following. Members of the public in Zambia have been complaining that the rights of individuals to associate have been violated by those in the Government. Even in situations where members of the public have complied with the Public Order Act by duly notifying the police pertaining to their right to demonstrate or speak freely in public, this right has been denied. When appeals are made to the hon. Minister of Home Affairs, they fall on deaf ears. It, therefore, follows that the rights of these individuals who duly follow the law have been violated with impunity by those in authority.


Mr Speaker, in Monze, the members of the public have been duly notifying the police to demonstrate, but they have been denied the permission to do so. When they are denied their right to demonstrate, all they have to do is exercise other democratic rights of booing those who do not confer them this right. That is what happens when you do not accord the members of the public their rights. They resort to extreme measures.


Mr Speaker, –


Ms Katuta: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: The problem is that I have not seen your point of order reflected on the screen. That is the tragedy of your point of order.


Continue, hon. Member for Monze Central.


Mr Mwiimbu: Mr Speaker, the point I am making is that there are two laws in this country that apply. The cadres of the Ruling Party–


Ms Katuta: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Ms Katuta: Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to rise on this very important point of order.


Mr Speaker, in this country, we have been talking about morals that should be taught to our children, who are the future generation. Therefore, we, in this august House, are expected to lead by example even in the manner that we speak because the nation is watching and listening to us. As leaders, the people we represent have so much faith in us and they follow what we say.


Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order against the hon. Member of Parliament for Monze Central and Leader of the Opposition. Is the hon. Member in order to encourage indiscipline in the country by saying that if the Opposition cannot be given permits, then, they should boo the Head of State? That is uncalled for. As Zambians, our culture does not encourage that. Is the Leader of the Opposition in order to encourage the public to boo the Head of State?


Sir, I need your serious ruling on this matter.


Mr Speaker: Very well, it is now time for me to speak. Let me say this: We have a very specific item before us. The Motion before us is very specific. As usual, we want to divert from a very plain Motion to agree whether or not Rev. Agness Chongo should be a Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). That takes us very far away from that business.


As to the hon. Member for Chienge’s point of order, it is really not my task to sit here and begin to pass judgement on various moral points of view. That is not my task. Earlier on, I think the hon. Member for Bwana Mkubwa, in his debate, referred to the fact that this is parley, which means to speak or to debate. There will be different viewpoints advanced. You may not agree with what Hon. Jack Mwiimbu said. You may have a different point of view. You are also entitled to advance your point of view. It is not the task of the Presiding Officer to now begin adjudicating on moral points of view and say this is right and this is wrong; debate this way, not that way; hold this view or do not hold this view. My task is to ensure that whatever viewpoints are advanced, are made in an orderly and civil manner and that they are not repugnant, denigrating or do not besmirch the character of other people.


I know these are very emotive issues, and those who will debate on this matter may tempt me to curtail this debate because I consider it to be a very plain subject. Do you endorse the appointment of Rev. Agness Chongo as Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission? Then, we can move on to other business.


That is my ruling.


Mr Mwiimbu: Mr Speaker, thank you for that very wise guidance. The point I was making is that as Rev. Chongo assumes the Office of Human Rights Commissioner, she should take note of the complaints from members of the public.


Mr Speaker, I was indicating that members of the public are aggrieved that those who follow the law, wanting to demonstrate and air their grievances, are being denied the right to do so. However, members of the Patriotic Front (PF), who do not follow the laid-down procedures, are allowed to demonstrate and take to the streets at any time they want, contrary to the provisions of the law. That is the issue I am bringing to the attention of the would-be Commissioner. I am saying to her that as she is being ratified, she should take note of the grievances from members of the public. The would-be Commissioner–




Mr Mwiimbu: Mr Speaker, could you, please, protect me from that one.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Member, just continue.


Mr Mwiimbu: Mr Speaker, members of the public, in particular, journalists in this country, are complaining that their rights to broadcast and freely air programs on radio without fear are being frustrated. May the would-be Commissioner, please, take note that occasions and incidences that are unprecedented in this country have occurred in the last one month. I am aware that the hon. Minister of Information and Broadcasting, at one time, condemned what happened in Muchinga Province, where unruly cadres went and attacked a radio station, a broadcaster and a voice because there was no individual there. They continued attacking the voice in Muchinga Province, specifically in Mpika, Isoka, Nakonde, Chipata and Mwinilunga. They have been attacking and damaging radio stations contrary to what is obtaining under the laws and the protection of human rights under the Bill of Rights.


Mr Speaker, as she assumes this responsibility, I urge her to take note of the complaints of the public. She should take note that the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), of late, has become an instrument that is being used to promote hate speech in this country. If we are not careful, in terms of respect for human rights, we shall cause strife in this country due to the irresponsible behaviour of certain journalists and those who are in authority. The rights of individuals in this country should be protected and that is why the Bill of Rights exists. I call upon the would-be Commissioner and her colleagues to stand firm and protect the rights of every Zambian, irrespective of where he/she hails from, and irrespective one’s tribe or ethnicity. We all look forward to the Human Rights Commission protecting us as a people. Unfortunately, it has no teeth to bite. That is why we have always urged that the Human Rights Commission be given powers to prosecute those who do not uphold the Bill of Rights.


Mr Speaker, with those few remarks, I would like to support the appointment.


I thank you, Sir.


Dr Malama (Kanchibiya): Mr Speaker, I would like to take it up where the previous speaker left off and say that I support this appointment. If you look at the Heart of Mercy, the organisation where the nominee is coming from, you will see that it is an organisation that assists in the domestication of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. The nominee is one of the fearless defenders of children’s rights. Her work involves going into the rural parts of our country, reaching out to young girls and boys and providing a safe haven for them. I would like to thank the appointing authority for finding such a one to sit on the Human Rights Commission.


Mr Speaker, secondly, those who know the Reverend will also note that she is a fierce defender of gender rights, particularly the women of our country who are marginalised and, especially so, the rural women. So, it is important that such a one sits on the Human Rights Commission. I would like to–


Ms Siliya: On a point of order, Sir.


Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.


Ms Siliya: Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to raise a point of order even though I should have raised it while the Leader of the Opposition was speaking.

Mr Speaker, the hon. Member of Parliament for Monze Central said that the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) was being used as a hate speech vehicle. That is a very serious statement because ZNBC is an institution that was provided for by lawmakers in this House to serve the people of Zambia. I heard him stating, on one hand, that the people of Monze had not been given an opportunity to express themselves and that is why they were unruly. In the same vein, I heard him congratulating the Government for stopping unruly cadres elsewhere. So, I am very confused that in the same debate, the Member of Parliament for Monze Central wants to promote illegality as long as it suits him and, in doing so, he wants to extend it to ZNBC, which is a public institution. Saying that ZNBC is preaching hate is extremely dangerous. Is he in order to say that?

I seek your serous ruling, Sir.

Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister of Information and Broadcasting, there are two issues here. The first is a technical one. When a point of order is raised, it should not amount to a debate. That is the technical point. The second point is that I addressed that issue, in a way, when I responded to a point of order by the hon. Member for Chienge. I said that if you want to respond to the hon. Member for Monze Central, you should simply indicate and advance your viewpoint. That is the very essence of debate. It is very inopportune for us, as presiding officers, to adjudicate these debates. It is not really our task to adjudicate debates. We are supposed to ensure that the debates are conducted in an orderly fashion and according to the rules of debate. That is our primary task and function.

The hon. Member for Kanchibiya may continue.

Dr Malama: Mr Speaker, you will note that the nominee is a defender of women’s rights. It is therefore, important that we have, on that commission, a commissioner who will be able to defend the rights of all the citizens, particularly, the hardworking women of this country.

Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank His Excellency the President for ensuring that the nominations are particularly directed towards the women, as the Select Committee noted. It is important that there is acknowledgment in that direction. Already, we have heard that the commission has more men than women. In fact, I would have liked to see a situation where we have more women on that commission.


Mr Speaker, I would like to encourage the appointing authority that going forward, it should continue with this spirit of ensuring that disparity is narrowed. I had started my debate where my colleague, the hon. Member for Monze Central had left off. I would also like to mention that the good people of Monze would like to see their President provide a service to them as he did.

Sir, His Excellency the President went to Monze to provide that service to the people. Therefore, it is important that the rights of the people of Monze are protected. I am surprised that the hon. Member for Monze Central is even siding with the United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres who booed His Excellency the President. I am surprised because I thought he would condemn such acts.

Sir, the President has a right to provide a service to the people of Monze and Kanchibiya. The President is sought after by all constituencies. The people in these constituencies would like the President to go to their constituencies and it is their right. Unfortunately, the hon. Leader of the Opposition, in his debate, seems like he is supporting his cadres. This is undermining the majority of the people in Monze and denying them of development. However, I am grateful that His Excellency the President was able to finish his tour. He, in fact, even asked for more developmental projects in the Southern Province just like he is asking and ensuring that development is in every part of this country. It is the right of our citizens to receive this service. So, those political parties that find joy in sitting on the rights of the people should know that the President has the right to serve the people of this country. The people of Monze have the right to development. I, therefore, support the nomination.

I thank you, Sir.

The Minister of Justice (Mr Lubinda): Mr Speaker, I would like to, first of all, commend your Committee for a thorough analysis of the suitability of the nominee to serve on the Human Rights Commission. I would also like to state that I am delighted that all the witnesses that appeared before your Committee testified to her suitability for this appointment. I have read the report very carefully, and I take note of the fact that there was a suggestion that the Human Rights Commission Act should have a proviso on the qualifications for a person to be appointed to serve as a commissioner.

Sir, let me inform the House that soon, Her Honour the Vice-President will present the Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Bill to Parliament. Indeed, if this is the desire of Parliament, let us bring this proviso to debate and let us see where the weight of the argument shall be. In debating that, I am also going to appeal to my hon. Colleagues to debate the requirement of the Paris Principles for institutions such as the Human Rights Commission to have quasi judicial authority.  I am sure that this is a matter that not anyone else, but Parliament, shall have power to exercise.

Mr Speaker, I would like to join the Leader of the Opposition in talking about what is expected of Rev. Chongo Phiri when she is ratified by the House to serve as a commissioner. I want to take a cue from the hon. Leader of the Opposition who said that he does not know the candidate and that this is the reason he came up with that list of expectations. Having interacted with the nominee for a number of years and having worked closely with her, I would like to say the following about her and her contributions to the HRC.

Firstly, she is going to join a team of dedicated Zambians headed by one well-deserving chairperson who, recently, was elected as a Commissioner to the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights. I shudder to imagine how we, as citizens, fail to celebrate our own successes and achievements of citizens. This should have been an opportunity for us to celebrate Bradford Mwandenga. He could not have ascended to that position had it not been for the fact that the people who are sitting to elect recognise the effective manner in which the Permanent Human Rights Commission of Zambia is performing its functions. They would not select a person from an institution that has been described like I have heard. He qualified and he was elected through an open, free and fair election not only due to the attributes that are attached to him as a person but also to the institution that he heads.

Having said this, Sir, I would like to assure the House that the nominee, whom I have interacted with on many occasions, promised the appointing authority that she will continue to appeal to Zambians to support the enhancement of the Bill of Rights. She will do that.


 Sir, she will also continue to be among the men and women of Zambia who foster debate on national issues using the right forums. That is what she will do at the Human Rights Commission. She will encourage citizens to debate when the correct forum is provided for them and discourage those who use other avenues to debate national issues.


Sir, I want to assure the House that Rev. Chongo is going to an institution which calls to order those who encourage free, progressive and intellectual discourse and discourage hypocrisy and inconsistency of those who only see their argument, not the view of others. She will call such people to order at the Human Rights Commission, knowing that this is the call for everybody who wants to defend human rights.


Sir, I interacted with her at the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) where she actively participated in reviewing the Public Order Act. Actually, when I met her in the corridors of Parliament when she came to support her nomination, she told me how shocked she was to hear that the same political party that caused the deferment of the amendment of the Public Order Act in 2019 is now on political anthills complaining about the non-passage of that amendment. Of this, I am sure, she will continue to remind us because she knows that the passage of such progressive laws is what maintains peace in a country. That is how we enhance the decoration of individuals and the protection of people’s rights to assemble.


Sir, Rev. Chongo Phiri is going to join others in the Human Rights Commission who are condemning the behaviour of some political commentators who are posting threats on social media that when they come into power, some particular named tribes shall be ostracised from their jobs. She will condemn that because she is an active participant in the protection of human rights, particularly the rights of Zambians, including many children.


Sir, I would like to end by saying that I have no doubt in my mind that Rev. Chongo will condemn those who will make it difficult to meet with their elected representatives purely because of their political inclination. She will condemn such behaviour because that is a denial of the opportunity and the right of citizens to interact with their President and hold him to account so that as he delivers development, they are there with him. She will condemn such behaviour because she is a defender of human rights. She sees things beyond the marred spectacles of politics. She has demonstrated this in her career.


 Sir, she started as a junior clerk in the Civil Service and managed to rise to a position where she was conferred with the responsibility of being Executive Director of a very important non-governmental organisation (NGO).


Mr Speaker, I would like to thank all hon. Members of Parliament for their support for Rev. Chongo. I have no doubt in my mind that she will perform to the expectation of citizens and the appointing authority. She will not, in any way, betray the confidence that this House is about to bestow upon her.


Mr Speaker, I would, therefore, like to appeal to all of us in Parliament to support the well-deserved nomination of Rev. Agness Chongo Phiri to serve the Zambia Permanent Human Rights Commission for which I also solicit support when its Bill comes before the House.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Mukosa: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank all hon. Members of Parliament, including the hon. Minister, who have debated this Motion. I appeal to all of them to ratify this presidential nomination.


I thank you, Mr Speaker.


Question put and agreed to.




Mr Syakalima (Chirundu): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on Transport, Works and Supply for the Fourth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly laid on the Table of the House on Wednesday, 10th June, 2020.


Mr Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?


Ms Kasanda (Chisamba):  Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion


Mr Syakalima: Sir, during the period under review, the Committee considered one topical issue, namely the water transport system in Zambia. Let me endeavour to only highlight a few issues contained in the Committee’s report.


Mr Speaker, an effective water transport system is vital not only to the promotion of commerce through increased trade opportunities, but also to create livelihoods for populations that would otherwise remain largely excluded from mainstream economic participation.


Mr Speaker, despite the Government’s policies on maritime and inland water transport being articulated in several policy instruments, water transport lags far behind road, rail and air transport and contributes very little to the transport sector as a whole. The underdevelopment of the water transport sector is reflected in the challenges existing in the sub sector.


Sir, one of the major challenges the sub sector faces is an outdated legal framework which does not match the current landscape in water transport such as safety and technological standards. The lack of an up-to-date legal framework has, therefore, been detrimental to the advancement of the sub-sector. Given the foregoing, the Committee is of the view that the legislation governing water transport should be urgently reviewed so as to take into account international best practices in maritime management such as cyber security and pollution.


Mr Speaker, the Committee notes that apart from the Mulamba Harbour in Mongu and the Mpulungu harbour, most of the harbours in Zambia are in a deplorable state. Further, the water transport sub-sector lacks revenue generation ventures and is the least funded of the four modes of transport.


Sir, the Committee, therefore, strongly recommends that the Government should develop a robust strategy to rehabilitate all harbours in the country. Further, the Committee urges the Government to consider transforming the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) into a national transport fund agency and, in the same vein, apply the fuel levy to the entire transport sector so as to ensure that no sub-sector lags behind. The Committee strongly recommends that the Government prioritises the allocation of adequate budgetary resources to the sub-sector for operations.


Mr Speaker, in conclusion, the Committee is indebted to all the witnesses who appeared before it, to you and the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly for the valuable guidance and services rendered throughout the Committee’s deliberations.


Mr Speaker, I beg to move.


Mr Speaker: Does the seconder with to speak now or later?


Ms Kasanda: Now, Sir.


Mr Speaker, thank you for allowing me to second this very important Motion. In doing so, I would like to just point out a few issues pertaining to the water system. The Committee notes that the Department of Maritime and Inland Waterways is facing a critical shortage of staff. This situation has worsened due to the unavailability of marine training facilities. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the Government should establish marine training programmes in higher learning institutions. To encourage enrolment, the Government should offer bursaries to a number of students so that this is utilised properly.


Mr Speaker, the Committee also noted that most of the vessels in the country are operating without insurance, and 80 per cent are unregistered. Therefore, they are not seaworthy. The Committee recommended that the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) should be transformed to the National Transport and Safety Agency (NTSA) to ensure that all these vessels are seaworthy and insurance compliant.


Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you.


Dr Musokotwane (Liuwa): Mr Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to make some remarks on the report that has just been delivered. The report is on waterways. Obviously, Zambia being landlocked, the waterways that we are talking about are inland. We have transport on our many lakes, rivers and swamps.


Sir, I fully agree with the conclusion of the Committee that the waterways mode of transport has not received adequate attention from our Government. Looking at the investment that has been made in the road sector in the last ten years, the road sector has received billions of United States (US) Dollars, as we all know. Air transport also received billions. You can see what is happening at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA), Copperbelt International Airport in Ndola and others. However, the question is: What kind of investment have we made in waterways? Zero, as we have been told. Waterways like Lake Kariba, Lake Bangweulu, Lake Mweru, Lake Tanganyika, Zambezi River, Luapula River, Chambeshi River, Kafue River, and Kabompo River could be used to transport materials and special tradable goods very cheaply from one point to another. I remember that as a student in Europe, I used to see barges and ships on the Rhine River carrying items, especially those not urgent, where speed is not important, all the way from the Balkans, passing through Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Germany and Holland. They were  transported very cheaply and this is something that we could also do in Zambia. However, it requires investment from the State, as usual.


Sir, I just have a few comments on the report. Among the waterways that were omitted in the report is the Luanginga River which connects Angola with Zambia.  At the moment, there is quite a significant amount of trade between Angola and Zambia, which would have been expanded if the Kalabo to Angola road had been worked on. However, this Government has totally abandoned it in the last ten to eleven years. The contractors have packed their tools and left the site. This is a very important road that could have generated this country US$500,000,000 to US$1billion. So, the only way to export and import from Angola now is through the Luanginga River and the associated canal.


However, as usual, even this river has been abandoned. Year after year, as the report says, there is siltation and the weeds encroach on the waterway. I am very sad that the report did not even mention this river, which is an important waterway. It is more than 100 km long and links Angola to Zambia.


Mr Speaker, the next point I would like to talk about concerning this report is on pontoons, now that we have a bridge at the Kazungula Border. We used to have two pontoons in Liuwa. One was at Kalabo going into Liuwa. A number of hon. Ministers here have seen how backward Liuwa is.  I hope the concerned hon. Minister is listening wherever he/she is. I am asking the Government to, please, give us one pontoon in Kalabo, so that tourists can cross from Kalabo into Liuwa to watch animals. The last pontoon that was at Libonda, which these people on your right removed, should, please, be given back to us.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Ng’onga (Kaputa): Mr Speaker, this is an important report that has just been presented to the House and the Motion was ably moved. Therefore, I thank the Committee for having undertaken such a study. I will be brief in debating on this issue, especially on the inland water transport. Most of us who are privileged to come from areas where water is one of the critical sources not only of our incomes but also of transporting both materials and goods look forward to this report being supported and accepted.


Sir, the dredging machines on which this Government has spent colossal sums of money to bring into this country, and from which Kaputa actually benefitted, have been underutilised. Your Committee’s report did indicate that one of the reasons could be the alignment that has been done by making this particular equipment belong to the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, instead of being under the Ministry of Transport and Communication. This has probably brought about a of proper budgeting or allocation of resources for this equipment.


Mr Speaker, even now, if you went into Nchelenge in Luapula, you would probably find about two or three dredgers parked. They have no fuel and drivers or the people that are supposed to work with these machines do not have any particular support that they need. We have one in Kaputa under what we call the Mofwe Lagoons. This was supposed to have opened up the canals that connect Kalungwishi River into Lake Mweru Wantipa.


This dredger has been stuck for six months without fuel, driver or maintenance whatsoever because it is not sitting well with the ministry. I urge the hon. Minister concerned to take care of this important equipment that is supposed to open up the water canals that are very important to people who live around the water. The equipment must not only be taken care of, but it must also be budgeted for properly so that it can be utilised for the purposes it is meant to serve. If we do not do that, the dredgers will become white elephants that will gather dust without bringing any meaningful development to the areas where they are supposed to be.


Mr Speaker, another issue of concern that was brought out in the report is the safety of water transport. Most of the water transport is improvised by businessmen or people who live near water. They make canoes or boats, which are not safe. Therefore, I encourage the Ministry of Transport and Communication to allocate more resources to water safety.


Sir, the mode of transportation that the people in Mpulungu in the Northern part of Zambia and Nsumbu on Lake Tanganyika use is water transport. It is a very long distance to go from Mpulungu to Kasama, Mporokoso and then to Nsumbu or Kaputa. People would rather use water transport, which is shorter, faster and saves time. Therefore, if more resources were allocated to this area, the people of Mpulungu, Nsumbu, Kaputa and those who live on the waters like those in Bangweulu would be happy and appreciate the Government’s efforts.


Mr Speaker, finally, I would like to talk about the ports. The Committee paid specific attention to the ports and what the Government has done to improve them so that goods and services can be transported to other countries. In Nsama District, there is Nsumbu Bay, which is deeper than the Mpulungu Port. It can even accommodate larger vessels than the ones that are accommodated at Mpulungu. The location of Nsumbu Bay as it relates to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the Kasumbalesa side via Kashiba, makes it the shortest route. So, if that port was developed, the Government would save a lot of resources from the importation of goods from East Africa through the DRC instead of passing through Luapula to the Kasumbalesa side.


I thank you, Sir.


Mr Speaker: Hon. Minister of Higher Education, have you indicated or is it inadvertently so?


Dr Mushimba: I was winding up debate, so, I do not know if you will allow me to go ahead.


Mr Speaker: Go ahead.


The Minister of Higher Education (Dr Mushimba): Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Ministry of Transport and Communication on this report that has been tabled.


Sir, the concerns that the hon. Members have spoken about have been taken note of. However, I wish to comment on some of them, specifically, the legal and regulatory framework. The Government has commenced the process of reviewing the legislative framework in the maritime subsector. In June 2020, the Cabinet approved, in principle, the repeal and replacement of the Inland Water Shipping Act Cap 466 of 1984. The new law will address some of the gaps that are in there and some of the concerns that were highlighted in the report.


Mr Speaker, on infrastructure development, the Government is in the process of mobilising funds for the modernisation of Mpulungu Harbour and will endeavour to mobilise more resources for all other harbours, including Nsumbu.


Sir, the Government has made progress towards procuring water transport equipment. To date, the following equipment has been procured and put on several water bodies:


  1. two water buses were purchased and deployed to Lake Mweru and Bangweulu;
  2. a twenty-four seater vessel has been deployed to Siavonga;
  3. two thirty-two seater vessels are on Lake Bangweulu;
  4. one thirty-two seater vessel on Lake Mweru; and
  5. the rehabilitation of the post boat on Lake Bangweulu has also commenced.


Mr Speaker, regarding financing strategies in water transportation –


Mr Speaker: Order!


(Debate adjourned)




The House adjourned at 1656 hours until 1430 hours on Thursday 9th July, 2020.