By Ndeezi Alex
GOING by the latest New Vision reports, some Members of Parliament yesterday submitted to the Rt. Hon. Speaker’s office a petition for recall of Parliament from the current recess to deliberate on issues linked to or originating from the death of late Hon. Nebanda Cerinah.
Even though I refused to append my signature to the petition, I am very much aware that they were exercising their constitutional mandate as the recall is clearly allowed by the constitution in certain circumstances that are detailed in the rules of procedure of Parliament. I sincerely congratulate them for having got the mandatory signatures of one third of all the MPs especially during recess (Hoping that some signatures are not fake!!!).
With all due respect for the 125 or more Honorable colleagues, I need to point out that going by the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure of Parliament, the grounds for recall of Parliament have totally collapsed in view of new developments spearheaded by the judiciary and Police in the last one week.
The Constitution and rules of procedures imposes limitations on Parliament in terms of debating or investigating matters being handled by the judiciary.
To proceed with these matters in Parliamentary debate, well aware that the chief justice has already appointed an inquest headed by a full judge whose appointment was cleared by Parliament itself; would amounts to a contradiction and contempt of the judiciary.
The Police have also done impressive work so far in terms of investigating and apprehending key suspects. The prime suspect is reported to have publicly and in court admitted to having caused the death.
This means that the Police as an organ of the state whose budget is appropriated by Parliament and operates in line with laws made by Parliament is making good progress in its investigative role as stipulated in the constitution.
A recall that may signal a vote of no confidence and question the credibility of Police at this material time is premature. Let the judiciary (Inquest) and the Police be given the benefit of doubt so that they complete their work.
In case Parliament is not satisfied with the outcome of the inquest and Police investigations, it will still be at liberty to, at an appropriate time, get involved by way of invoking the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the rules of procedure.
We have also learnt from experience that, just as too much speed on our roads can cause carnage, too much speed in handling state affairs in Parliament can cause problems -- including those to do with credibility of individual MPs and Parliament as an institution. It should be recalled that not long ago, some of our colleagues were accused of tabling fake documents during one of the most highly charged debates on oil.
Up to now, they have not been cleared, that’s to say, no one has come up with evidence to refute allegations that fake documents were tabled in the August House by Honorable Member of Parliament!!
I appeal to MPs to exercise patience and wait for judges and the Police to complete their work.
Checking the excesses of the executive is Parliament’s Constitutional mandate; however the country and Parliament itself may stand to suffer if this mandate is not exercised honestly, responsibly, reasonably and in the spirit of natural justice which makes it possible for other organs of the state to perform their roles and to be given an opportunity to be heard.
Writer is a Member of Parliament