KATUBA UPND member of parliament Aubrey Kapalasa has petitioned the Constitutional Court for an interpretation of certain provisions in the current Constitution on whether President Edgar Lungu is eligible to run as a Presidential candidate for the third term in this year’s election.
The opposition lawmaker says after wide consultation, it is his belief that the incumbent president is eligible to contest the 2021 elections.
Kapalasa who has cited the Attorney General as respondent in the matter, wants the ConCourt to interpret Articles 106(1), (3) and 106(6)(a) and (b) of the 2016 Constitution, as amended by Act No.2 of 2016, making it clear whether or not President Lungu 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 run as Presidential candidate for the third time.
“It is my belief, which has been fortified by legal consultation from within and out of the Republic of Zambia, that Edgar Chagwa Lungu is still eligible to run as a candidate 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 as such I am seeking for the interpretation of the expunged provisions cited,” Kapalasa submitted.
According to an affidavit in support of originating summons filed in the Constitutional Court, Tuesday, Kapalasa stated that there was no known transitional provisions in the Constitution of Zambia (as amended by Act No.2 of 2016) that imports the conditions in the old Constitution to the present Constitution, therefore leaving him and the public confused as to whether actions taken under the old Constitution count under the new Constitution.
He said he was aggrieved that the Constitution, as amended by Act No.2 of 2016, was not clear as to whether or not the current sitting President, Edgar Lungu or any person in his situation and position who was first elected in a by-election or any election which was not a general election was still eligible to run as a Presidential candidate for the third time in this year’s general elections.
“His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu was first sworn in to the office of the President of Zambia on January 25, 2015 and later ran for re-election in the General Election of August 16, 2016 and won for the second time. The Constitution was amended on January 5, 2016 and thereby repealing the 1996 Constition (as amended by Act No.18 of 1996) which was used to regulate the first Presidency of His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu which 1996 Constition had clearly limited, without exceptions in terms of an elected President to two as per its article 35(5),” Kapalasa stated.
“The transition from the 1996 Constition (as amended by Act No.18 of 1996) to the 2016 Constition leaves uncertainties and legal lacunae as to whether the current sitting President’s terms have to be computed 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 the new 2016 Constitution at Article 106 (3) and (6) (b) which limits the terms of the Presidency to two but gives an exception that where any terms was characterised by a period in office of less than three years after assuming office and expiry of the term, then such term of a period or less than three years shall not be deemed to be a full term.”
Kapalasa stated that it was in the interest of the public and all people of Zambia that the Court mentions itself on the interpretation of the impugned provisions in the current Constitution as to whether President Lungu is eligible to run for the third term while taking into consideration the impugned Article 106 (1), (3) and (6) (a) and (b) of 2016 of the Constitution of Zambia.
In 2017, Kapalasa had filed the same documents, in the Constitutional Court, seeking an interpretation, but it is not clear whether the matter was withdrawn or not.