UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka says the continued push for President Edagr Lungu to contest the 2021 general election is unconstitutional and will lead to the eventual downfall of the PF.

In a statement, Katuka stated that the collapse of Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 had exposed President Lungu’s determination to go for an unconstitutional third term.

He, however, cautioned that the Head of State’s insistence to still push for an unconstitutional third term in office would lead to the ruling party’s destruction because they will not be able to field a legitimate candidate for the Republican Presidency.

“This past week, through his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe, President Edgar Lungu dared the nation that he is standing in next year’s general election and is not worried by the eligibility case. Mr Lungu is relentlessly posturing his eligibility to contest the 2021 presidential election. Although Edgar Lungu is the weakest and easiest PF candidate to beat in the 2021 presidential election, we strongly feel, as UPND, that his candidature is unconstitutional. The collapse of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill Number 10 of 2019 has exposed his determination to go for an unconstitutional third term of office,” Katuka stated.

“This is in breach of the constitutional provisions as provided in the 1996 Constitution under which Lungu was first elected Head of State in the 2015 presidential election following the death of president Michael Sata in October, 2014. The anger and frustrations exhibited by Lungu’s cronies and minions, led by Justice Minister Given Lubinda, have exposed the hidden agenda of the ruling PF to manipulate the electoral system and advantage their great leader. As if Lubinda’s public anger were not enough, PF’s surrogate civil society organisation (CSO), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), has equally been emotional in defeat. But this is understandable considering that both Lubinda and the PF user-friendly CSOs and ‘men of God’ had assured the great leader everything was on course towards the delivery of the evil Bill 10 when it was presented for Second Reading in the National Assembly on 29 October, 2020.”

He added that the PF’s “true members” should not allow President Lungu to go for an unprecedented third term in office.

“Now that Bill 10 has crashed with a thud, the PF-aligned ‘opposition’ political parties, CSOs and their ilk should advise their ‘great leader’ he is taking a self-destructive path! In another shameless show of anger and frustration, Lungu has cracked the whip, though indirectly, by asking innocent members of parliament (MPs) Frank Ng’ambi, Kabaso Kampampi and Elalio Musonda to exculpate themselves for not voting with the ruling party in support of Bill 10,” Katuka added.

“The country is yet to see the charges that will be preferred against the Chifubu, Mwansabombwe and Kamfinsa MPs. PF secretary-general Davies Mwila has gleefully executed Lungu’s instructions and given each of the MPs seven days within which to exculpate themselves before sanctions are imposed on them. The ‘true greens,’ as the PF original members call themselves, should say ‘no’ to Lungu’s Third Term if they are to remain relevant to the country’s political dispensation after next year’s elections.”

He charged that President Lungu was using “manipulative schemes” to return to power unconstitutionally next year.

“President Frederick Chiluba had attempted to tread this perilous path by pushing for a third term bid in the 2001 presidential election. But the net effect of that over-ambitious move was that it only ended up making his party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), divided. Eventually, when the dust settled down after Chiluba realised that his third-term attempt had reached a dead end, the MMD remained with a lean support base as a lot of members had left the party in defiance of the toxic selfish scheme. Chiluba’s arrogant appetite for a longer stay at State House would later almost cost the MMD an electoral victory in December, 2001, as president Levy Mwanawasa beat his closest rival, Anderson Mazoka, by a paltry 27,000 votes. As a lawyer, Lungu knows too well that he was first elected and took office under the 1996 Constitution. Under those provisions, even serving for a day as President counted as a term of office. He was further elected and sworn-in for the second term in August, 2016, a term considered the second and final one,” Katuka stated.

“Even under the current Constitution, renowned Lusaka lawyer Elias Chipimo explains in his article (12 January, 2017) that to ‘hold office’ is simply to be sworn into office and serve as President until the next person is sworn into that office. This is abundantly clear from Article 106 (2), which states: A President shall hold office from the date the President-elect is sworn into office and ending on the date the next President-elect is sworn into office.’ We can state this in another way. Although a presidential term is five years, a person can ‘hold office’ for less than five years. The restriction in Article 106 (3) does not use the word ‘term;’ it uses the words ‘hold office.’ Like Chiluba, Lungu is pretending that the Zambian people are gullible and are not seeing through his manipulative schemes to retain power outside his constitutional mandate. Unfortunately, his manipulation has been dealt a mortal blow, but if he continues to push his luck too far by being arrogantly defiant, the ending might be too ugly for his comfort.”

He cautioned that President Lungu was leading the PF down a destructive path due to his insatiable appetite for power.

“Due to local and international pressure, Chiluba abandoned his third-term bid about seven months to the election date and only managed to leave the then-ruling party with huge cracks, which, nine years later, would lead to electoral defeat at the hands of the PF. Most PF members and honest legal minds understand that Lungu is taking the party on a trail of destruction because of his insatiable appetite for power. But, because of self-preservation, they keep cheering him on! To them, if they can eat with him for the next few remaining months, they will tag along,” stated Katuka.

“The question is: for how long? Before long, all shall come to pass as the third-term scheme has already begun crumbling and all those supporting this illegality shall run away from Lungu! It did happen to Chiluba, a much more politically-astute and stubborn schemer, whose support base was real and not inherited. Constitutionally, this case provides good legal arguments and State Counsel John Sangwa is likely to have a field day in court if Lungu does the unthinkable and files in his nomination papers for next year’s presidential election. By then, it will be too late for the PF to find a replacement candidate as the nomination period will have been closed. What a way of shutting the Patriotic Front!”