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Third term eyeing Lungu now in line for court challenge

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It is now clear that the Patriotic Front PF has settled for incumbent President Edgar Lungu as the party’s presidential candidate for the much anticipated polls set for 12 August this year.

Lungu who was recently endorsed as PF president, filed his nomination papers at party’s Secretariat yesterday, with pointers indicating he will sail through at the Congress set for this weekend.

Meanwhile, what his filing means is that he will be the party presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections.

Apparently, Lungu should brace up for court challenge, as some legal minds had promised to contest his bid to stand for a third term.

Prominent Constitutional lawyer, State Counsel John Sangwa made his intention clear that he would challenge Lungu’s eligibility.

Speaking the other day, Sangwa said he has already drafted a petition waiting to challenge Lungu’s nomination as 2021 Presidential candidate, should the Patriotic Front go ahead to field him.

And Sangwa insisted that he has no political ambitions, but remains interested in protecting and defending the Republican Constitution.

Apparently, Malambo PF member of parliament Makebi Zulu, once charged that the renowned lawyer was being mischievous in saying that President Lungu was a lame duck President and was not the right person to advocate for a constitution amendment.

Zulu also said it was clear that Sangwa planned to challenge President Lungu’s nomination in court.

In response, Sangwa said it was no longer a secret that “President Lungu doesn’t qualify” adding that he had already drafted a petition which was sitting on his laptop awaiting to be filed at the right time.

“I have read the story from Zulu. I want to start by applauding him for confirming what we have always suspected: that Bill 10 is not about empowering women, the disabled, the youth or improving the economy or sorting out chiefs’ wrangles as we have been made to believe.

“The intention of Bill 10 is clearly to repeal Article 52 so that people do not challenge President Lungu’s eligibility to stand in 2021.

“He has just confirmed that and I hope you quoted him correctly. He has said it clearly. Now, maybe this statement will clear it. It is not a secret, I don’t believe President Lungu qualifies to stand for the election in 2021.

“I can confirm to Honourable Makebi Zulu that I already have a petition on my laptop pursuant to Article 52, ready to file in the Constitutional Court the day President Lungu will file in his nomination papers! It is not secret, God-willing I am alive next year, that is what I intend to do. I already have a draft of the petition on my laptop, I can confirm to you. So, it is not a secret,” Sangwa once said in an exclusive interview with News Diggers!

“Now, he has just confirmed that if Bill 10 passes, I will not be able to challenge that. He has confirmed that their biggest interest is Article 52, which they want to remove.

“That article empowers citizens to challenge the eligibility of any person to stand for an elective office, including that of President. I am confirming that, God-willing, I am still breathing, the day when President Lungu files his nomination papers, I will file in that petition. My point is that if they truly believe that President Lungu qualifies to stand in 2021, then they should remove Bill 10 so that that issue is properly mitigated before the Constitutional Court. If you believe you qualify, then why are you trying to remove the law, which allows me to test your qualification?”

He reiterated that the ConCourt did not rule that President Lungu was eligible to stand for the 2021 general elections.

“I know that he (Zulu) claims that the Constitutional Court declared that President Lungu qualifies. Ask him to tell you the page where in the judgement the Court said he qualifies?

“There is no such a clause, there is no such a pronouncement. When you go to court for interpretation of the Constitution, it is simply to seek clarification from the courts; the Court is not being invited to declare the rights of parties. So, my position is that the Constitutional Court never declared President Lungu eligible,” he insisted.

MacDonald Chipenzi, the executive director of Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services (GEARS) Initiative Zambia, advised President Lungu to listen: “and listen attentively” to his fellow lawyers like John Sangwa, Dr Fred M’membe, Elias Chipimo among others, regarding his desire to re-contest presidential election for the 3rd time in a row.

Chipenzi says President Lungu’s attempt to manipulate the Constitution and contest elections for a third time is evil and must be stopped by any person interested in constitutionalism.

Lungu was sworn-in as Zambia’s sixth President at National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Sunday, January 25, 2015. He was 59.

After August 11, 2016, President Lungu was re-elected with 1,860,877 votes (50.35 per cent), against UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s 1,760, 347 votes (47.63 per cent) – a difference of 100,530 votes.

Hichilema disputed the result and sought legal intervention in the Constitutional Court of Zambia.

However, the court dismissed Hichilema’s presidential petition on a technicality on September 5, 2016.

President Lungu was, for a second time, sworn-in on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 at the venue for his first inauguration.

Article 106(3) of the Constitution of Zambia prevents a person who has twice held the Office of President from standing again for that office.

Chipenzi, said the fact that legal minds continue to advise him that he would be committing a treasonable offence to offer himself for nomination, when he is ineligible, was enough advice to heed to and avoid being charged after his term office is done.

“Let him go and rest after August 12 general election, instead of hiding under the Con Court judgment which did not even concern him,” Chipenzi said, in a statement on Wednesday.

He promised President Lungu and his backers that should he insist into filing in his presidential nomination papers for the August 12 general election, “we shall all join John Sangwa and others in petitioning President Lungu’s eligibility in court.”

“[We want to] put it on record that he does not qualify, so that when he leaves office, whenever that will be, he is brought to account,” he said, while hoping that Zambia must be moving towards breaking the circle of arresting her former Presidents. “But if this drunkenness with power and authority continues and their conduct that leaves much to be desired persists, then the perpetuation of this circle is guaranteed.”

Chipenzi said President Lungu has held office twice and that he could not blindfold Zambians that he had only served for one term, using the ConCourt judgment, “which never was to challenge his nomination.”

He said a nomination challenge could only be done after one had validly been nominated by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), and not before.

Chipenzi said the ECZ ought to make the presidential nomination form public for the public to scrutinise whether the provision of Article 106(3), on holding office twice, was one of the disqualification in the nomination process.

“Nominations forms must not be held and kept in secrecy by the ECZ. They must be public documents for all to see and scrutinise whether some of the people vying for those positions qualify and help in involving the public in the vetting system of those vying for public offices,” Chipenzi said.

“Challenging candidates after nomination or election must not be the preserve of the competing or losing candidates but all Zambians, once the nomination forms are made public to all to scrutinise.”

He said the public must know what rules applied to candidates who were vying for various elective public positions.

Chipenzi said such public disclosure of rules for candidates should include presidential candidates for members of the public to defend the Constitution from being abrogated, violated and overthrown by: “unscrupulous individuals, as instructed by Article 2 of the Republican Constitution.”

“Therefore, we reiterate the call on President Lungu not to listen to bamushanina ubwali (bootlickers). They are a political and democratic danger and menace,” said Chipenzi. “We say no to President Lungu’s manipulation of the Constitution…It is evil and must be stopped by any person in the business of promoting constitutionalism.”

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31