NASON Msoni says Edgar Lungu is an owner’s risk presidential candidate to the PF.
Msoni, the All People’s Congress (APC) president, says State institutions are on trial on the question of eligibility of President Lungu.
He adds that Zambia is at a critical juncture now and that if State institutions cave-in, only the PF constitution will be in force by 2026, for the Republican Constitution would have been rendered ineffectual.
On Saturday, President Lungu received his adoption certificate as the presidential candidate from PF secretary general Davies Mwila at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
Reacting to that, Msoni said even the most brutal dictators, like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, always use Parliament to amend the Constitution.
“Even when he (Museveni) changed the age limit, he used Parliament. In Burundi the late president, Pierre Nkurunzinza, changed the Constitution through Parliament,” Msoni said in an interview over the weekend. “The legitimacy of any amendment to the Constitution must be subjected to parliamentary approval, because that’s where the people’s wishes and aspirations are represented. Any other way is null and void when it comes to the question of the Constitution.”
He said as matters stood now, “Mr Lungu’s candidature is at their (PF’s) own risk.”
“Since they have insisted…We have warned them that there is no other clear interpretation of the Constitution than what it says – that if you have held office twice you are ineligible,” he said. “The law is made for bad men or bad people. But even where it’s so clear, bad men insist on having their way, in holding the system sway. Where you have a gentleman, he would simply read and say ‘the Constitution does not allow me and by reason of this Constitution I have held office twice.’ Then you go peacefully.”
Msoni pointed out that Zambia is in a very unfortunate situation and that beyond this point, “we’ll have no country to go back to, if this lawlessness that we see playing out is facilitated.”
“So, this third term thing has put institutions on test, whether they are fit for purpose or not. It’s institutions which, in essence, are on trial. It is the institutions of the State which are on trial, on the question of eligibility of Mr Lungu,” Msoni explained. “If these institutions cave-in, then we are finished – we’ll have no country to return to. That’s what this thing is all about. Zambia is at a critical juncture which calls for utmost patriotism from its citizens.”
He noted that Zambians could either retrieve, save the country or allow it to sink and sink permanently.
“Look at the extent of lawlessness! This will only amplify. In 2026 there will be no Constitution to talk about. It will just be the PF constitution that will even override the supremacy of our [Republican] Constitution,” Msoni feared. “So, for us to maintain sanity as a country, to retain this country and bequeath it to our children, we all must act in the interest of everybody, by ensuring that the Constitution is upheld by those who have already held Office of President twice. He has already been in the pot twice!”
He underscored that the PF was up to no good, on the candidature and on the adoption of President Lungu for this year’s elections.
“We think that the premature adoption of a clearly debarred candidate is putting to test the patience of Zambians and the credibility of the State institutions mandated to protect the Republic,” he said. “We are saying to the PF ‘stop tempting the loyalty and the resilience of the Zambian people by pushing their lack too far’.”
Msoni argued that there was no legal basis upon which President Lungu could legitimately contest, for a third time, this year’s elections, “except by the flagrant breach of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia.”
He indicated that it was absolutely encouraging lawlessness for President Lungu, “who is constitutionally debarred,” to contest the elections, knowing too well that he has already held office twice.
“Needless for me to remind him that he swore to protect and defend the very Constitution he is attempting to circumvent illegally. Beyond that, there will be no further limitations on term limits as the Constitution of the land would have been defiled beyond repair,” he said. “There is no other permissible criminal interpretation of the Constitution that can override the supremacy of the supreme law of the land.”
Msoni further said the idea that corruption and intimidation should be deployed at President Lungu’s pleasure would certainly backfire.
“[It will] only bring about scorn and contempt upon the concerned institutions of State,” Msoni cautioned. “The law cannot willy-nilly be changed by default by a few individuals and yet for you to amend the Republican Constitution you require the magic two-thirds majority to do so. In essence, it would be immoral to override Parliament and attempt to amend the Constitution by default.”
He said without any prejudice to any ongoing matter at play, insisting on the judiciary to make a provision by default, through the interpretation of the Constitution for a debarred candidate to contest the elections, was absolutely an unprecedented development in the context of the African setup.
Msoni commiserates with President Lungu that constitutional amendment No. 10 of 2019 (Bill 10) flopped in the circumstances it did.
“That would have given him some semblance of legitimacy of some kind. [But] as matters stand, it is illegal for Mr Lungu to stand. His candidacy still remains in limbo and he is ineligible to contest the elections,” insisted Msoni. “We therefore think that giving Mr Lungu his adoption certificate at this stage is, in essence, at owner’s risk for the PF.”