GOVERNMENT Chief Whip Brian Mundubile says whether or not Bill 10 is enacted, President Edgar Lungu is standing in 2021 because he is eligible.
And Mundubile has asked citizens to abandon the debate on President Lungu’s eligibility and concentrate their energies on much more productive things like contributing positively to the development of the country.
In an interview, Mundubile wondered why constitutional lawyer John Sangwa State Counsel was still advancing the same arguments which the Constitutional Court disagreed with during the President’s eligibility case in 2018.
“Those assertions are not true! We all know that the questions of President Lungu’s eligibility were settled in the ConCourt and I think that ruling is out and people can have recourse to it and understand what the Court has said. I think what was an issue that time was whether the time that the President served from the 25th of January, 2015 to September, 2016, as a term. That was what had to be established, and if you look at what was said in that judgement, clearly, that argument was put to rest. So, I don’t think that our focus has been on that particular matter. It, therefore, is not true that we are trying to bring up Bill 10 to make the President eligible when he is not because, according to the ConCourt judgement, he’s actually eligible,” Mundubile argued.
“Allow me to read part of the judgement. It says, ‘…it, therefore, follows that in the current case, the term served, which sits as tried to the pre and post-2016 Constitutional amendments and having looked at the intention of the legislature as we’ve done and the holistic approach we have taken in interpreting Article 106 of the Constitution in its entirety, our answer to the question that we have rephrased is that a Presidential term of office that runs from 25th January, 2015, to 13th September, 2016, and straddled two Constitutional regimes cannot be considered as a full-term…’ So, the question was whether he served a term or not; if he had served a term between 25th January, 2015, and 13th of September, 2016, and coupled with the current term, it means he would have served two terms, in which case he would have been ineligible. Now, the fact that the first question was answered not to be a term, it only goes to show that he has only served one term by the end of this term and, therefore, the Court didn’t even find it necessary to answer the second question. So, maybe that is where senior Counsel (John Sangwa) is trying to confuse people!”
Mundubile asked Sangwa to accept the ConCourt judgement as final and move on from President Lungu’s eligibility, saying there was no need for him to try and appear as a champion at “lesser platforms” when he failed to argue his points in court.
“I think the Court was very clear by the very fact that the Court ruled that the President didn’t serve for a term, it means that, that term doesn’t exist. So, I think there is no need to confuse ourselves on that because if you read the full judgement, you will realize that all the arguments that John Sangwa’s advancing now were also advanced in court and the Court didn’t agree with him. So, I think it’s not exactly prudent for him to find lesser platforms to try and advance the same arguments when you took them to court and the Court didn’t sustain you. You can’t then get the same argument and go to a lesser platform like the media where nobody is going to question you then you become a champion. I think that it was easier to become a champion in court by winning the case. So, when you lose a case and the courts don’t sustain your argument, it’s prudent to just accept and move on,” Mundubile added.
He urged citizens to ignore President Lungu’s eligibility issue and focus on developmental matters.
“If you look at some of these discussions, they’ve overshadowed everything else for the past five years and I think it’s not progressive. Let’s not position ourselves as a people that have nothing to do, people that will just want to pick on dead stories and revive them for purposes of relevance! I think we can be relevant in many other spheres that can contribute to human development. But if we are going to pick on dead topics, topics that have been resolved and want to appear as champions because there is no one to challenge us at that particular platform, I think it won’t help us in any way. I feel that this country is facing a number of challenges where many intelligent Zambians that we have, like State Counsel John Sangwa, can apply their minds and contribute to the development of this country. I think at individual-level, let’s begin to ask ourselves: ‘what am I doing to improve the livelihoods of people even in my private capacity? So that whatever we do every day should point in that direction. But if we are going to employ negative energy day-in, day-out, I think that posterity will judge us. Let’s not forget that our children are watching,” said Mundubile.