Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Silya says the notice of motion moved by the United Party for National Development (UPND) seeking parliament to impeach President Edgar Lungu has no substantial grounds.
Siliya explained at a press briefing co-hosted at her office yesterday with Northern Province Minister Brain Mundubile that the grounds in support of the allegations set out in the motion by the UPND neither fell within the scope of impeachable offences nor met the test of substantiality.
She added that government was not panicking by commenting on the impeachment but that it had a core responsibility of reminding Zambians that the people they sent to Parliament for representation had elected to continue crying over an election they lost in 2016 instead of wanting to provide an alternative agenda for the country.
“The notice of motion submitted by the UPND continues a pattern of the refusal to acknowledge the election of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu as President of the Republic of Zambia. It signals a chance of tactic from non acceptance to tactic acceptance of his election as President. It continues a trend of the abuse of the judiciary and legislative procedures in an attempt to thwart and subvert the mandate given to the President by the Zambian people in the elections held on the 11th August, 2016. the notice of motion is not only misconceived but also represents an egregious attempt to abuse the procedure of the National Assembly as well as the remedy of impeachment. The allegations taken do not amount to any impeachable offense recognised in any system of the government,” Siliya said.
“Under Article 108 of the Constitution of Zambia, a member of parliament may move a motion of impeachment on the following grounds; a violation of a provision of this Constitution or other law; a crime under international law; or gross misconduct. Not only any violation or gross misconduct amounts to an impeachment offense. There are adequate safeguards in the Constitution and other laws to protect the public from breaches of the Constitution or other laws. For example, the case of Mwamba and Another Vs Attorney General (1993) 3 L.R.C. 166 asserts that the President’s actions are not immune to judicial review.”
Siliya charged that the impeachment motion lacked merit, adding that much of the allegations in the motion were based on hearsay and social media.
“An examination of the notice of motion and the grounds in support reveals that the allegations set out neither fall within the scope of impeachable offences nor meet the test of substantially. The allegations in 1.1 to 1.3 are the subject of judicial consideration and hence, cannot be delved into by the House. Allegations under 1.4 do not impute any wrong doing on the part of the President. The allegations must state with sufficient particularity the President’s actions or omissions which amount to an impeachable offense. A president cannot be impeached for doing acts which the Constitution has submitted to his discretion. The allegations under ground two do not contain any particulars that amount to any wrong doing on the part of the President. The particulars alleged are not only speculative and exploratory but also downright false. The basis of the said allegations, as is the case with most allegations in the notice, is hearsay and social media,” she said.
“For example; under clause 2.1.1 the name of the aide or aides who have engaged in corrupt practices has not been stated. The corrupt practice (s) have not been set out. The matter under clause 2.1.2 of the grounds are sub prejudice. Clause 2.1.3 of the grounds is not only speculative but false, clause 2.1.4 of the grounds does not provide particulars of the person or persons dismissed on ethnic or political grounds. Clause 2.1.5 of the grounds does not state the opposition councilor (s) who allege were offered cash inducements . Clause 2.2.1 of the grounds does not state the trip (s) which were wasteful and does not in any way amount to conduct that can put the existence of the state at risk. Clause 2.2.3 of the grounds is exploratory and speculative. It does not set out any particulars as to when and how the directive was issued by the President. Clause 2.3 and 2.4 of the grounds does not state any particulars of the wealth and assets allegedly procured by the President. It is meant merely to scandalise the person of the President without just cause.”
And Siliya called on Zambians to reject the impeachment motion with contempt.
“The opposition by the fact that their existence are there to offer checks and balances and offer alternative development programmes to the electorate. The government, on the other hand has a mandate to rule. The allegations set out in the notice of motion set out value judgment and opinions which they are entitled to hold. However, a difference in opinion or discontent with the government cannot form the basis of impeachment. To the contrary, the abdication by the opposition to represent their electorate reposed in them to represent them in the House. As earlier stated, the notice of motion is an egregious abuse of the House and must be dismissed with contempt it deserves.”
However, when challenged to explain why government seemed to be panicking about the motion when it’s the Speaker’s jurisdiction to determine the relevance of an impeachment motion, Siliya said government had a responsibility to tell Zambians the truth about the people they sent to Parliament to represent them.
“We have a responsibility to tell the people of Zambia that the people you sent to parliament want to waste your time. Instead of representing you and fighting for schools and water for you and giving government ideas on how to create more jobs for citizens, they are spending their time only crying over an election they lost in 2016; instead of wanting to provide an alternative agenda for the people of Zambia so that the people can see why they should chose them instead of PF. What they are doing is crying over a matter that all Zambians have moved on from 2016. We as government will not allow to be side tracked, we as government want to share with them that people want to waste your time,” said Siliya.
Meanwhile, Mundubile who is also PF chairperson for legal affairs reiterated that the motion did not meet the standards of impeachment and that it was just a waste of taxpayers money in its state.
“If we say we allow this, first of all as a motion it must meet the standards. The contention here is that even as the constitution provision, you must provide particulars that specific for the allegation. So the moment you don’t do that, it falls short of the standard. So we are not stopping it to come but we are just saying that it must meet the standards. Even for the people of Zambia, they take parliamentarians to be very serious. I am sure Zambians will take exception to believe that MPs should just go to Parliament just to waste time because clearly thats what it would mean. We have to understand that running government is a serious thing. So the people running government and even t governed must be very serious and the Presidency itself ans an institution must be respected,” said Mundubile.