UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) political historian Professor Bizeck Phiri says the ruling PF needs to prepare a strong case on President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility because it is not an easy one to win.
In an interview, Professor Phiri urged the ruling party to listen to the advice offered by learned lawyers, not party cadres, to avoid being misled on President Lungu’s eligibility ahead of the 2021 general election.
“There are two views on whether President Edgar Lungu is eligible to stand or not. You have some lawyers saying the case was deliberated on and the decision was made by the Constitutional Court and, therefore, it is not an issue that should be pursued anymore. Whereas others feel the (Court) ruling was on other issues pertaining to the same matter. When you look at the situation, there are two concerns, which are saying, ‘for the President to be considered to serve a term, it should be not less than three years.’ Others are saying, ‘as long he has been sworn in twice, that is it.’ So, that is a bone of contention, which is creating this controversy,” Prof Phiri observed.
“My views are that those who are complaining that he is not eligible, it is incumbent upon them to find out what the law is saying. The PF must say to themselves: ‘let us be very clear about ourselves; how do we move forward as a party?’ They need to remain united. We are moving towards elections in 2021, Parliament has not yet been dissolved and you will find that people will pretend to be with the party. The moment Parliament will be dissolved, you will find that people begin to start crossing boundaries. At this point, the ruling party needs to be clear, are they speaking with one voice? Are there people within the party that belong elsewhere, but hiding under the umbrella of PF? Because that weakens political parties. So, it is not an easy case, whether he is eligible or not. It is an issue that needs to be thoroughly investigated, an issue that needs to be concluded so that at the end of the day, the PF does not end up divided over that matter.”
He said issuing public statements on President Lungu’s eligibility case was not enough to prove he was a legitimate candidate.
“The ruling party needs to prepare their case very strongly so that even if it ends up in court, they have a very strong case to move forward. It is not enough to issue public statements. I know that the PF has a legal team; they should put their case very strongly so that when they are being challenged, they have the evidence. If you listen to some of the people that are speaking, some of the people have no legal background at all! But they are very good at making noise. So, the ruling party should avoid going by those kinds of people; they should be following the legal advice from lawyers, not cadres. Cadres on the streets can easily mislead,” cautioned Prof Phiri.