Zambia Elects First Female Speaker To Parliament

Lusaka’s renounced lawyer and human rights activist. Nelly Mutti has emerged the new Speaker of the National Assembly replacing Mr. Patrick Matibini, a retired high court judge who served as Speaker for 10 years. This change of government comes as a result of general elections held August 12 2021 where the opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema emerged winner of the Presidential election in Zambia defeating incumbent President Edgar Lungu.

It was the first time Lawmakers in Zambia will elect a woman as Parliament Speaker since the country’s independence from British rule in 1964. Mutti was duly elected during the first section of the 13th National Assembly on Friday 3rd September and she sailed through unopposed

According to the Country’s constitution, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Zambia is a position established under Article 69(1) of the constitution. The Speaker is elected by members of the Assembly from anyone eligible to be elected to the National Assembly, but cannot be a sitting member. A Speaker is nominated by either the President or the political parties with majority representation in parliament and must be subjected to an election if there is more than one candidate.

Mutti, a former chairperson of the anti-corruption commission of the country, also served as Vice President, Law Associate of Zambia {LAZ} and was later appointed by President Levy Mwanawasa as Commissioner on the Constitutional Review Commission {CRC} to draft the country’s new constitution.

Nelly Mutti was sworn in along with her two deputies – Attractor Chisangano, a member of President Hakainde Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND), and Moses Moyo, who was elected to parliament as an independent candidate.

In his address at the ceremony, President Hichilema said Mutti’s election championed the cause of women in leadership roles in Zambia.

He vowed to let parliament operate independently and without any influence, urging legislators to give top priority to people’s welfare.

On her appointment as the country’s first female Speaker of the National Assembly, Nelly Mutti said “It’s an honour to me, as a Zambian first of all, that I have been given this opportunity to serve the people of Zambia in the capacity of Speaker.

“Being a woman really is not a qualification but what is important is that when you are given a responsibility, you will be able to deliver. Competence is always an important issue”.

Earlier on, 155 newly elected members of Zambia’s parliament took oaths of office, signaling the commencement of legislative sessions after August general elections.

Prominent among them was the daughter of immediate past President Edgar Lungu, Tasila Lungu, who won a seat in Chawama township, her father’s former constituency in the capital Lusaka.

Members representing both the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND), now opposition Patriotic Front (PF) and independents took the oath before the clerk of the National Assembly, Cecilia Mbewe.

Hichilema’s party UPND has the lion’s share of lawmakers with more than 80 of 155 seats, while the PF accounts for a little more than 60 of the seats, with the rest held by independents.

Hichilema will ceremonially open the first session of Zambia’s unicameral parliament, known as the National Assembly, under Mutti’s leadership on Sept. 10, where he is expected to outline his vision for his government’s five-year term.

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