LUSAKA lawyer and UPND Lusaka Central aspiring candidate Mulambo Haimbe says President Edgar Lungu’s interpretation of the constitution should not be trusted.

Last week, President Lungu wondered why his 2021 eligibility had become a problem when the Constitutional Court had ruled that he had only served one term of office.

However, in an interview, Haimbe said President Lungu was not the best person to listen to on the eligibility case because he was an interested party.

“Since he has come out in the open about what he believes, he should allow us to openly debate without people getting threatened and all these things we see under the PF regime. He has opened a pandora’s box. Let him allow the people of Zambia to speak freely. The constitutional Court never ruled on his situation specifically. The Constitutional Court ruled on the interpretation of the Constitution in respect to the question it rephrased. When the people who are his surrogates went to court, they asked the ConCourt to say: is President Lungu eligible to stand in 2021 and the ConCourt refused to answer that question. It said this is not about an individual, it is about interpreting the Constitution holistically. There are still several questions that need to be determined; the first is the clear provision of Article 106 (3) of the Constitution which states that a person who has twice held office as president is not eligible for election as president,” Haimbe said.

“What the President is talking about saying ‘I did not serve a term according to the constitutional court’, does that mean he did not hold office as President? Clearly, the answer to that question is no. He was sworn in, he held office, he exercised the powers of being a president. In 2015 going into 2016 and 2016 general election, he was elected again, he was sworn in, he continued to hold instruments of power, doesn’t that amount to holding office as President? Clearly the answer to that question is yes he does. He is not eligible! And he is an interested party. He is not the best person to listen to when he alleges that he is eligible because he has an interest to serve, which disqualifies him from speaking objectively. In the same way he had an interest to serve prior to the 2016 elections when he said office bearers should not leave office so you can’t trust his interpretation of the Constitution, it is self serving,”

He said the ruling Patriotic Front must be ready for the consequences if the ConCourt rules that he is not eligible to contest the 2021 elections.

“The only way we can resolve this is if he dares filing in his nomination as president and he will be challenged and the ConCourt will determine. If it decides he will be eligible, so be it; if it decides that he is not, they must be ready for the consequences as PF. He is not the most feared candidate that you can come across to challenge HH, with all this that is going on in the economy, he is actually the best target that we can have,” said Haimbe. “It is not about being worried about him, it is about saying we are law abiding citizens, we must follow the law, let the law decide. This is somebody who can hold office for another five years on the pretext that the people of Zambia never challenged him. We have to challenge him, it is a must; we have to challenge him.”