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UPND MP PETITIONS CONCOURT OVER LUNGU’S ELIGIBILITY

UPND Katuba member of parliament Bampi Kapalasa has petitioned the Constitutional Court to interpret Article 106(1)(3) and 106(a) and (b) amendment Act no.2 of 2016 and clarify whether or not President Edgar Lungu is eligible to contest the August 12, 2021 elections after being sworn into office twice.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that President Edgar Lungu did not serve a full term between 2015 and 2016, as he was concluding late President Michael Chilufya Sata’s term.

This was in a matter in which Christian Democratic Party president Dan Pule, New Congress Party leader Peter Chanda, Zambia Republican Party president Wright Musoma and Citizen Democratic Party leader Robert Mwanza sought the court’s interpretation on whether or not President Lungu is eligible to contest the general elections slated for August 12, this year.

The ConCourt’s ruling on President Lungu’s eligibility has raised public debate as its judgment on whether President Lungu has held office twice or not has been considered vague.

However, Kapalasa is seeking a determination on whether the sitting President or any person in his situation who was first elected in a by-election or any election which is not a general election is still eligible to rush as a presidential candidate for the Republic of Zambia for the third time in the 2021 general elections or there after.

In his affidavit in support of originating summons, Kapalasa, who is appearing in person, said the Constitution of Zambia amendment Act no.2 of 2016 has conditions of the old constitution in the present constitution which leaves him and the general public confused on whether actions made under the old constitution count under the new Constitution.

“I am aggrieved that the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Act no.2 of 2016 is not clear as to whether the current sitting President Edgar Lungu or any person in his situation and position who was first elected in any by-election or any election which is not a general election is still eligible to run as a Presidential candidate for the third time,” Kapalasa said.

The lawmaker argues that President Lungu was first sworn into office on January 25, 2015 and later ran for re-election in the general election on August 11, 2016 and won the second time.

Kapalasa stated that the Constitution of Zambia was amended on January 5, 2016 thereby repealing the 1996 constitution (as amended by Act no.18 of 1996) which was used to regulate the first presidency of President Lungu which the 1996 constitution has clearly limited without exceptions in terms of an elected President to two terms in accordance with Article 35(5).

He stated that the transition from the 1996 to the 2016 constitution leaves uncertainties and lacunae as to whether President Lungu’s terms have to be calculated by Article 35(2) of the old constitution which he was elected under and which limited him to two terms without any exception or by Article 106(3) and (6)(b) of the 2016 constitution, which limits the presidential term to two but gives an exception that any term was characterised by a period in office of less than three years after assuming office and expiry of the term less than three years shall not be deemed to be a full term.

Kapalasa wants the Concourt, in the interest of Zambians, to pronounce itself on the interpretation of the disputed provisions in the 2016 amended constitution on whether President Lungu is eligible to run for third term while considering the impugned Article 106(1)(3) and (6)(a) and (b) of 2016 of the Constitution of Zambia.

He argued that the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Act no.2 of 2016 is not a complete constitution but an amendment of the existing constitution of 1996 which itself was an amendment of the 1991 constitution, as there is no indication and Act no.2 of 2016 does not purport to negate the provisions of the former constitution but rather alter aspects of the same.

“I am aware that democracy and constitutionalism are among National Values and Principles enshrined in the Constitution of Zambia and democracy and constitutionalism requires that this court ensures that democratic processes are in tandem with constitutionalism,” said Kapalasa.

“It is my belief which has been fortified by legal consultation from within and out of Zambia that Edgar Lungu is still eligible to run as a candidate for the Republic of Zambia in the 2021 general elections but the lurking uncertainties is causing discomfort to me and many Zambians who have openly expressed themselves in the public domain and I am seeking interpretation of the expunged provisions cited above.”

He has since requested the court to expedite hearing the matter and positively interpret the constitution to clear the minds of Zambians.

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