“I almost started a civil war” Alexander Chikwanda

FINANCE minister Alexander Chikwanda
on Thursday defied Speaker of the
National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini by
refusing to withdraw a tribal statement
which sparked chaos in the House.
And Chikwanda later boasted to his
colleagues in the parliamentary local
government committee that he almost
started a civil war in the House.
Winding up debate on his motion to raise
the debt ceiling, Chikwanda diverted from
his speech and called the UPND a tribal
party.
“Let me express my profound gratitude to
the Honorable Minister of Information for
explaining where the money we have
borrowed goes. People are just refusing to
see the reality. They don’t want to
acknowledge that the roads in Choma and
the infrastructure they are seeing there
have been financed by the incessant
borrowing by this government…it’s not like
the Honorable members don’t know, they
just don’t want to accept and of course one
member put in a lot of work. I think let me
say this, it is very difficult for the members
on the other side of the divide because
they belong to a party which will never
form government for the simple reason –
that party, in the history of Zambia is the
only party which has exclusivity in terms of
where the leaders come from,” said
Chikwanda.
At this point, UPND members of
parliament rose and asked Speaker
Matibini to order Chikwanda to withdraw
his statement.
But Speaker Matibini censured Chikwanda
before allowing him to proceed.
“Order! Order! Honorable Minister of
Finance, I don’t think it is necessary for you
to go there where you went. Let’s confine
ourselves to the motion. I was following
very closely with a lot of interest what you
explained but I got anxious the moment
you took that line. Please, I would like us
to maintain order, let’s have harmony.
Proceed,” Speaker Matibini said amidst
echoes of dissatisfaction from the UPND
members of parliament who still felt
Chikwanda needed to withdraw his
statement.
However, Chikwanda continued his debate
and made another remark to reinforce his
earlier tribal statement.
“Mr Speaker…I just want to say – let me
stray a little, I will come back a bit – since
PF is a role model, our hero [Michael Sata]
departed, the president of our party, there
was no insistence that since he comes
from the northern part of the country…”
Chikwanda said as the opposition
members of parliament rose to again
beckon Speaker Matibini to make him
retract.
“Retract! He has destroyed the economy of
this country!” the UPND members of
parliament shouted.
The confusion went on for about two
minutes before Speaker Matibini asked
Chikwanda to take a seat and called for
order.
“Order! Honorable minister, you are
winding up. I am sure you can wind up
now,” he said.
However, the UPND members of
parliament got incensed, stood up and
demanded that Chikwanda be made to
withdraw his statements. They continued
shouting and gesturing angrily at the
finance minister, a situation which forced
some PF members of parliament to rise
and defend their fellow member.
Information minister Chishimba Kambwili
was then heard challenging UPND
members of parliament to a fight.
“Nga na mu yumfwa iseni tu pononane (if
you feel so strong, come here we fight),”
Kambwili shouted at the UPND members.
Upon hearing that, Katombora UPND
member of parliament Derrick Livune
charged angrily towards Kambwili and
took off his jacket in readiness for a fight.
But Mazabuka UPND member of
parliament Garry Nkombo restrained him
before he could cross the floor of the
House to fight Kambwili.
Kambwili, who had also been making his
way to Livune, returned to his seat upon
realising that the latter had been
restrained.
In the midst of the chaos, Mufumbwe PF
member of parliament Steven Masumba
came from the backbench and took to the
centre of the chamber to challenge Livune,
but he was blocked by Solwezi West UPND
member of parliament Eddie Kasonso
whom he instead channelled his anger
towards and the two were engaged in a
near punch-up.
At this point, Speaker Matibini beckoned
the parliamentary police who then trooped
in and
filled the main chamber, restraining the
members of parliament as the push and
pull continued.
Other Parliament employees who were
working around the building trekked to the
press and visitors’ galleries to witness the
rare violent phenomenon in the National
Assembly.
An aggressive Masumba was dragged back
to his seat by about five parliamentary
police officers, who had trouble restraining
him despite his small stature.
During the whole incident, several PF
members of parliament, among them
agriculture minister Given Lubinda, were
seen walking towards Chikwanda to
seemingly congratulate him for his refusal
to withdraw the statement.
The whole episode, characterised by the
hurling of insults, lasted about 15 minutes
before the Speaker, who had been
dumbfounded, asked everyone to return
to their seats.
“May everyone return to their seats,”
Speaker Matibini ordered.
About two minutes later, Dr Matibini asked
Chikwanda to withdraw his statement.
“Order! Order! Honourable minister, I am
sure you have seen what has happened;
may you withdraw your statement,”
Speaker Matibini said.
But Chikwanda refused to withdraw his
statement, saying he had not said anything
offensive.
“Mr Speaker, I did not say anything
offensive. I am morally constrained…I was
just talking about political parties…when I
was about to wind up I said ‘members of
political parties…,” Chikwanda said as the
UPND members of parliament cut him off,
insisting that he withdraws his statement.
Namwala UPND member of parliament
Moono Lubezhi told Speaker Matibini that
Chikwanda was undermining his authority.
“He must withdraw, he is undermining
your authority!” Lubezhi shouted.
Speaker Matibini then pleaded with
Chikwanda to withdraw his statement.
“Honourable Minister of Finance, you
know, if you continue that way, I will also
abandon this. Because this is disorder, I
can stop this. Honourable minister!
Honorable minister! There was a point
where I had said let’s not go there. I am
sure you recall and I am sure you have
reformed…that is all I want you to confirm.
That is all. Please, go ahead,” Speaker
Matibini said.
But Chikwanda defied the Speaker again.
“Mr Speaker, I thank you for your very
profound guidance…but allow me a
conscience. I never said anything offensive
to any member of this House and like one
member who is very close to me… I have
never been offensive, and to the extent of
what has been reinforced or harnessed in
other people, this is what I regret, so what
am I going to withdraw?” asked
Chikwanda.
Speaker Matibini quickly stood up and
started reading the motion to raise the
debt ceiling in order to move away from
the topic.
“Very well, very well. I put a question, the
question is, that in terms of section
three…” said Matibini.
And according to sources, Chikwanda later
told his colleagues in the parliamentary
committee on local government that he
had almost started a civil war.
“He was unrepentant. Right after the
motion was adopted, he left the House
and went to meet his other colleagues in
the local government committee where he
was even bragging to say ‘I almost caused
a civil war’. He seems to have enjoyed the
whole thing,” said the sources (www.postzambia.com/news.php?id=16035)

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