NAREP president Elias Chipimo says the Constitutional Court assumed the role of the National Assembly by implanting fitting clauses in the 2016 amended Constitution to favour President Edgar Lungu in last Friday’s judgment.
Chipimo, who is also a renowned Lusaka lawyer, explained when he featured on a Diamond Television programme dubbed Costa, Sunday, that the public outcry surrounding the ConCourt’s ruling on President Lungu’s eligibility was created by the court itself because it imposed wording that was never part of the amended Constitution.
“I will tell you where the problem is with this ruling, and it was a problem that’s really been created entirely by the Constitutional Court itself [by] imposing wording which they believe Parliament should have thought about. It has nothing even to do with the issue of whether the term is five years or not. There basis for deciding that… they’ have added something and in my professional view, they have actually taken the powers of Parliament and drafted into the 2016 Constitution and implanted back to the pre 2016 Constitution those same provisions that allow a Vice-President who assumes office or a person who is elected because a Vice-President can’t assume office and they have now said that President Lungu effectively is deemed to benefit from that provision as though it existed in 2015, pre 2016,” Chipimo said.
“And they have done that because they’ve simply said President Lungu was…and they don’t mention his name in the judgment because they are trying to make it seem like this is not about an individual but at the end of the day, they have made a decision which has given rights to only one person. And those rights are [for] President Lungu. What we have said is that there were two different Constitutional regimes happening: there was the 2015, the pre 2016 amendment regime, so the 1996 Constitution and then there was the 2016 amendment. So we had that post period, so they are saying that this person was sitting in the middle of one regime coming to an end which says ‘twice elected’ and now you have this new regime which says ‘twice held office’ but it gives an exception where you ascended to the Presidency because you were a Vice-President who was ascending office on a vacancy or you are elected when the Vice-President could not take up.”
Meanwhile, Chipimo condemned government for trying to curtail the spread of fake news in the country by introducing cyber bills that would in turn infringe on people’s freedom of expression.
“The PF has failed to manage the economy. We are heavily indebted, we have mortgaged our country in a way that we didn’t have to. Building tollgates and all those other things should have been done without having to borrow money. But because we have done that, we are short now of capital just to run the government. So they have to start to introduce these different taxes and they have found a soft target. Secondly, on the issue of cyber crime, this really is just an attempt to monitor what’s going on within the social media community… but look, you cannot run away from fake news, it is here to stay. The key thing is how do you counter it? We have always said that do not curtail fake news by trying to stifle people’s freedom of expression. Curtail it by not doing the silly things, the nonsensical things that are showing people how much is being stolen, why you are misapplying your powers. These are the things that will stop it because if there is fake news that somebody has stolen something, open the books and show them the real position,” he said.
And commenting on the introduction of the Public Finance Management Bill, Chipimo said the bill was a good document but that it would only work well if there was political will on the part of leaders.
“The introduction of the public finance management bill is the start but it’s not the solution, I do believe that it’s a start but the key issue here is, is there political will to actually fight corruption? If you look at what is happening in South Africa for example where President Cyril Ramaposa’s son has been accused of impropriety, what did President Ramaposa say? He said ‘open the gates, investigate this thing fully, pay back any money that looks like it was suspiciously acquired and id any prosecution needs to happen, I will be the one to take my son to the police station to face the charge’. This is the kind of political will we have been lacking in this country, certainly since the PF came into power,” said Chipimo.