WYNTER Kabimba has U-turned on his statement last month where he said President Edgar Lungu was eligible to stand for a third term in 2021.
Right after President Lungu announced that he would stand in 2021, Kabimba, who is Rainbow Party general secretary, was the first opposition leader to endorse the Head of State’s interpretation of the Amended Constitution.
But in a letter to Patriotic Front secretary general Davies Mwila dated today and titled “ARTICLE 106 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF ZAMBIA (AMENDMENT) ACT NO. 2 OF 2016”, Kabimba stated that his party’s legal team had concluded that Article 106 of the Constitution did not allow President Lungu to re-contest.
“In early January 2017, I made a statement on the Hot Fm radio show to the effect that H.E. President Edgar C. Lungu was eligible for election as president in 2021. I was responding to a question from a reporter who was following up the statement from the President during his visit to the Copperbelt.
In the last three weeks the question whether or not President Edgar C. Lungu is eligible for election again in 2021 has generated intensive debate across the country,” Kabimba wrote.
“A number of people have been quoted either in the print or electronic media canvassing this point one way or the other. Consequently, I decided to ask the Rainbow Party legal team to peruse the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, in particular article 106 which provides for the tenure of office if the President in order for them to advise on this matter.”
He noted that President Lungu’s current term of office was his second and last.
“The team’s perusal revealed that Article 106 provides for three situations; (a) a person in the position of President Lungu who has been elected and has held the office of the president once (2015-2016) and then re-elected for the second time (2016-2021), (b) the Vice-President who takes over the unexpired term of an elected president following the occurrence of a vacancy (Article 106 (5)), (c) a person who is elected as president because the Vice-President is unable to assume the office of the president following the occurrence of a vacancy under article 106 (5),” Kabimba wrote.
“It is our team’s view that the question of what constitutes full term for purposes of holding office once or twice only relates to the Vice-President and the person elected under (c) above. It does not apply to any other situation at all. The legal team further submits on the situation at hand thus. When President Lungu was first elected in January 2015, we did not have the constitutional provisions which now exist under Article 106 (5) (a) and 106 (5) (b). It is, therefore, the team’s considered view that it was his first time to hold the office of president, nothing to do with the period he served as president. In August 2016, he was re-elected to hold the office of president twice as provided under article 106 (3) and hence ineligible for election in 2021.”
He noted that his new position was the party’s position on the subject.
“This view takes into consideration the fact that there was no repeal of the Constitution in 2016 but simply an amendment. I must state, therefore, that this professional opinion from the party’s legal team us the correct position on this matter and hence the position of the Rainbow Party,” stated Kabimba who copied the letter to President Lungu and the Law Association of Zambia.