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Parliament in a fix on Leader of Opposition

Parliament is in a fix on the status of Leader of Opposition as the House may have to proceed with incumbent Kondwani Nankhumwa who has no party affiliation following his dismissal from Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Article 35 of Standing Orders of Parliament stipulates that the Leader of Opposition shall be elected by the party not in government having the greatest numerical strength in Parliament at any point in time and officially announced as such by the Speaker.

Mwenye: Nankhumwa will be the one attending the meetings

Under Article 36, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament may only be removed by the party that elected him or her.

DPP fired Nankhumwa alongside 10 others and appointed Mulanje South West legislator George Chaponda as his replacement.

In an interview yesterday, Parliament spokesperson Ian  Mwenye said Parliament respects a court order that upholds Nankhumwa as leader of opposition.

He said Nankhumwa will, therefore, be the one attending the meetings of the Business Committee which comprises leaders of parties represented in the National Assembly and sets out the agenda.

But some inside sources said Parliament is in a fix because in an ideal situation, Chaponda should take up the role.

In a separate interview, Nankhumwa’s lawyer Wapona Kita said his client is still the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.

DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba on Monday warned of chaos should Nankhumwa continue acting in the role by attending the the Business Committee meeting and on the DPP benches in the chamber.

The Business Committee comprises the Speaker, Leader of the House, Leader of Opposition, Government Chief Whip, leaders of parties not in government, opposition party whips and Deputy Speakers as ex-officio.

A lawyer who spoke on condition of anonymity said vacating the injunction that is validating Nankhumwa’s status will not be easy considering that the court already heard both sides and sustained the injunction.

However, lawyer George Kadzipatike said although the injunction was obtained after hearing both parties, it remained an interim order granted pending determination of the main matter.

“The correct procedure for the DPP is to apply before the High Court for an order vacating the injunction on the basis of the new facts that have arisen.”

In June 2022, some DPP legislators obtained an injunction stopping Chaponda from taking over the position. The injunction also restrained the party from removing Nankhumwa from the position.

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