LUSAKA lawyer and UPND Lusaka Central aspiring candidate Mulambo Haimbe says the PF have interpreted the Constitution relating to President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility to stand in 2021 to suit their own interests.
In an interview, Haimbe expressed disappointment that the PF had repeatedly interpreted the law to suit their own interests by insisting that the Head of State was eligible to be re-elected for a third successive time next year, when in fact not.
“There is also a simple fact that before the Constitution was amended (in 2016), the President had already been elected under the previous Constitution. So, you cannot then now come around and say that it should be interpreted in a way that it is favourable to him. We maintain that there is nobody who is scared to stand against him come 2021. Unless Bill 10 passes, which is also an impossibility, he will be challenged, let him file his nomination, he will be challenged in court and the PF may end up having no candidate, so they do it at their own risk,” Haimbe cautioned.
He said President Lungu’s interpretation of the law should equally be taken with a pinch of salt as he was the same one that misled the country on the illegal stay of Cabinet Ministers in office after Parliament was dissolved prior to the 2016 election.
“Of course, everybody is entitled to their own interpretation and how they interpret the law, not all the professionals will have the same interpretation of every particular law provision. As I say, that I would like to put a reminder to the people of Zambia that the very same President in 2016 pronounced himself in a Cabinet meeting where he says, ‘his Ministers could continue in office’ despite what the Constitution said and he actually laughed at the people of Zambia that this was the interpretation and that is how it should be. Few months down the line, the Constitutional Court said, ‘no, you were wrong, those people served illegally in office.’ So, an interpretation from him and those that support him need to be taken with that pinch of salt because of past experiences,” he said.
He reiterated that the Amended Constitution remained clear that a Republican President elected twice was not eligible to stand again.
“It is surprising that the ruling party wants to be an authority on its own on matters, which they don’t have expertise. At the end of the day, it is a legal issue and the Law Association of Zambia is espoused with responsibility of speaking on legal matters, and the Association has come out clearly just as several legal practitioners, including John Sangwa, has come out clearly; Kelvin Bwalya Fube has also come out clearly and I have also come out clearly that the Constitutional Court did not pronounce itself on the question of the President’s eligibility to stand for 2021,” said Haimbe.
“It pronounced itself to the question as to what amounts to a full term and whether or not the President is eligible is still out there. The position that we take is that he is not eligible for the simple fact that the very same Constitution says, ‘a person who has twice been elected as President cannot stand.’ The Constitution is very clear that nobody is entitled to a third term, whether it is a three-year term whatever it is.”