NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) vice-president Josephs Akafumba says the ignorance exhibited by Justice Minister Given Lubinda on Article 52 sub article (6) of the 2016 Amended Constitution is alarming.
On Saturday, Lubinda had argued that Article 52 (6) of the 2016 Amended Constitution was dangerous and toxic as it gave the opposition an advantage to cancel the elections if they saw that they were losing.
“In our Constitution, there is Article 52 sub article (6), very dangerous, extremely toxic in that Constitution. It states that if people have filed in their nominations, presidential candidates, if in the middle of campaigns, one who filed in their nomination dies, the whole election is cancelled. If one resigns, the whole election is cancelled. Now, tell me, in a country where we have people that are treacherous, are you sure if they see that article and they see that they are losing, can’t they resign?” wondered Lubinda.
But in an interview, Akafumba, who is also a lawyer, said Lubinda’s analysis of the Constitution was a danger to the country.
“The ignorance portrayed by the Minister of Justice is alarming and frightening! You know, the Ministry of Justice is not like any other Ministry, it’s a very crucial Ministry as it deals with the justice system of the country. Therefore, to have a person at that level who can’t read the Constitution and understand it fully or who reads it and chooses to misinterpret it, is a serious danger to the country. No wonder they have been assuring President Lungu that they have the numbers in Parliament to pass Bill 10 and we have seen what has happened. Secondly, it is the same Ministers, now led by the same Minister of Justice, who have now gone round the country and once again to mislead the people that he [President Lungu] qualifies to stand for presidential elections in 2021,” Akafumba said.
“Article 52 sub article (6) does not state what the Minister of Justice said. It is worrying, really, that the Minister of Justice can go public and read into the Constitution something that does not exist. He is a danger to society and a danger to himself. I have carefully read sub-article (6), I can’t find his arguments ‘that the opposition can use this article to derail the elections…’ unless he has a Constitution specifically for PF. But if we are reading the same Constitution of Zambia, I will tell him that, ‘next time we go public, can we do a little bit of reading’ because that office he is holding commands high respect on matters of justice. Their time is up, so they are now speaking and reading from self-made constitutions. I would advise them to restrict themselves on the Republican Constitution.”
He said it was unfortunate that Lubinda was the same Minister who was trying to mislead the nation that the Constitutional Court ruled that President Edgar Lungu was eligible to contest next year’s general elections.
“It is the same Minister, I don’t know for lack of reading or lack of understanding of the Constitution and even, generally, court rulings and judgements, who is again trying to mislead the same President Lungu, that the Constitutional Court cleared or ruled that the President is eligible to stand as a candidate in the 2021 presidential election. Anyone caring to read that judgement, you will not find that, there is nowhere where the Constitutional Court said that,” Akafumba said.
“The Law Association of Zambia has given guidance and stated clearly that the Court did not pronounce itself on the eligibility of President Lungu. Mundubile, who is their Chief Whip, agreed with the position of LAZ, but because the PF have mastered the art of where you have two conflicting answers, they are hitting their heads on the wall. We heard Makebi Zulu (Eastern Province Minister) contradicting his colleagues, the Minister of Justice also says something else. So, really, President Lungu is being advised by people who either deliberately mislead him or they don’t know what they are talking about.”
And the former justice permanent secretary said the PF could not be trusted on matters of articulating the Constitution, adding that it was President Lungu who wrongly acted by leaving ministers in office in 2016 despite Parliament being dissolved.
“You can’t trust them on issues of articulating the Constitution. That Attorney General was on Sunday Interview and advised that when Parliament is dissolved, everybody goes and he was right. But President Lungu later had a press briefing at which he castigated all of us, as citizens, that we must develop the culture of reading. Lungu, as a senior lawyer, has read the Constitution and the Constitution was clear according to His Excellency Dr kaya uko Dr Chagwa Lungu that it allowed the Ministers to stay in office; all of us didn’t know what we were doing. Now, fast-forward, the matter was taken before the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court said: ‘wait a minute, Mr President, you were wrong’,” said Akafumba.