RAINBOW Party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says he does not agree with the Constitutional Court’s interpretation of a Presidential term of office, which, according to him, deems President Edgar Lungu eligible to contest the 2021 general election next year.
And Kabimba says he supports the clause in the Constitutional Amendment Bill 10 of 2019, which seeks to re-introduce the position of deputy ministers, arguing that they were helpful during his time as Minister of Justice.
Speaking when he featured on Joy FM’s The Platform programme, Thursday, Kabimba insisted that President Lungu was ineligible to contest next year’s general election.
“President Lungu doesn’t qualify. The Constitution is very clear when you read Article 105 and you go down to 107, you actually come to realize that the man is not eligible. They (PF) intended to make him eligible, the intention was to give him a third term, but the drafting is bad. They didn’t pay much attention to the drafting. So, they took away a term from him (from) their own Constitution. So, he doesn’t qualify, and this ongoing debate, now, is unnecessary to be honest with you. Yes, there is a judgement, which has been handed down by the Constitutional Court that interprets with what a term is, (but) I disagree with that judgement, but I still respect it as a judgement of the court. But I think the judges misdirected themselves in the interpretation of the Constitution. The definition of what a term (of office) is under that judgement is not correct. The finding of what a term is in that judgment is just not correct!” Kabimba argued.
“Article 105, if I am not mistaken, does not talk about holding office. It says, ‘no person who has twice been elected…’ it’s a very short paragraph. So, how are we importing all these things of ‘holding office twice?’ It only talks about that article, which only refers to being elected twice. And if you just confine your reading to that Article, it throws President Edgar Lungu out! He was elected once in 2015; he was elected for the second time in 2016, so he has been elected twice. I don’t even want to delve in the academics of holding office or not holding office. I want to interpret what Article 105 says about somebody who has twice been elected.”
Kabimba said President Lungu was a beneficiary of a wrong judgement by the Constitutional Court.
“This matter went before the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court interpreted what a term is and went further and said that, ‘…it, therefore, means that President Lungu has not served two terms of office.’ And the Constitution says the decision of the Constitutional Court is final, it is the court of first and final instance and its decision is final. So, to that extent, this matter has been settled. But in my view, I still stand by my argument that the Constitutional Court was wrong and is wrong! So, President Lungu is a beneficiary of a wrong judgement by the Constitutional Court,” he said.
And Kabimba said he was in support of the re-introduction of deputy ministers.
“The issue of deputy ministers has been contentious as to what their role is. The general understanding and belief is that these guys really don’t do much. And that is anchored on the argument that when a substantive Minister is out of the office, the President appoints another Minister to act and not the deputy Minister. I am in support of the clause that supports bringing back deputy ministers because having served as Minister of Justice, I came to appreciate the roles, functions and responsibilities of a deputy Minister. But others are entitled to a different view,” Kabimba, was part of the National Dialogue Forum which drafted Bill 10, said.
He also supported the creation of a coalition government.
“Starting from 1991 to-date, all our elections have been financed by donors. There is not even a single election apart from by-elections that has not been financed by people from outside. In other words, your democracy is anchored on the good will of other people. In other words, we ought to be beholden to those that are sustaining our democracy in order to remain a democracy because we have failed to finance our own Presidential and Parliamentary elections! The registration of voters is financed by cooperating partners; even the issuance of National Registration Cards, there is a component of a donation there from cooperating partners. But why should we have a Constitution that provides for a run-off within 30 days when you are just coming from an election, which has been financed by outsiders?” Kabimba wondered.
“Why do you want to have an expensive menu in your house when it is your neighbour that is feeding you? I think that’s not being reasonable. Therefore, our view, as Rainbow Party is that, it will give us some sense of pride if we can do away with that article relating to a run-off. I am sure even these guys that are helping us are tired; they have problems in their own countries, too. We can’t be going back to them every now and then asking for money from them! Can’t we stand on our own and run our own affairs without being beholden to others? So, that clause makes a lot of sense in terms of promoting Zambia’s sovereignty and independence that we’ve craved for since 1964. That 50 (per cent) plus one clause is expensive.”
He further said that working outside of the PF made him happy because he was not being blamed for all the problems the country was facing.
“I consciously resigned my membership in PF. There are people who say that I was expelled, I wasn’t expelled. On 12th November, 2014, I did write a letter to Dr Guy Scott, who was then President of the party, that I had resigned my membership from PF. That’s not a decision that I made out of an impulse of the moment, I thought through it and I decided to leave the political outfit to go somewhere else and, therefore, I have no regrets not to be a member of PF. In fact, I am very happy that I am not a member of PF because, now, I am not part of the inequities in PF. You will not blame me if you found no mealie meal in the shops; you won’t blame me if you don’t get paid at the end of this month. So, I am a free citizen; I walk the streets of Lusaka very freely,” said Kabimba.