THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says it still stands by its position that the Constitutional Court did not make any ruling on President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility for this year’s election.
But Constitutional Lawyer John Sangwa says it is clear that LAZ has no appetite to challenge President Edgar Lungu’s nomination, a development he says will not stop him from doing so in his own capacity as a citizen.
When asked if the Association would challenge President Lungu’s nomination when he eventually files in ahead of the August 12 general election, the Association avoided this question, but insisted that the ConCourt did not deal with President Lungu’s eligibility case.
“Please note that you are already in possession of a statement in which we advised you of our opinion regarding the eligibility of the incumbent President H.E Edgar Chagwa Lungu. We stand by our earlier communication to you dated September 16, 2020,” stated LAZ’s honorary secretary Sokwani Chilembo in response to a press query.
Last year, LAZ president Abyudi Shonga guided that the ConCourt did not deal with any other eligibility criteria.
“It is the position of LAZ, according to the Constitution of Zambia as amended by Act No. 2 of 2016, the President of Zambia may only serve two terms. Further, it is LAZ’s position that there are several eligibility criteria for a person wishing to contest for the office of the President of the Republic of Zambia. One of the criteria is that the person must not have served two terms prior to attempting to contest. It is common knowledge that the Constitutional Court was called upon, in the cases of Reverend Danny Pule and others vs Attorney General and others, to determine whether President Edgar Lungu was eligible to stand for the office of the President of the Republic of Zambia in 2021,” said Shonga.
“Apart from a pronouncement that the presidential term served between the 25th of January, 2015, and the 13th of September, 2016, cannot be considered a full term, it is the position of LAZ that the Constitutional Court did not deal with any other eligibility criteria. Our opinion on the qualification or lack thereof of any potential candidate can only be based on the criteria passed by the law and on being presented with certain facts that may bring the qualification of such a candidate into question. The position as at now is that the only issue we are aware of is the issue of the full-term, which the court dealt with decisively in its judgement, which is binding.”
Sangwa however told News Diggers that; “When I said I am waiting for instructions from LAZ, it was purely out of courtesy. From the statement they have given, it is clear that LAZ has no appetite to pursue this issue. Therefore, it remains a right for any citizen who is interested to follow up on this issue. I personally intend to pursue it with or without LAZ. There are several options, I can either do it in my own name or I can represent any Zambian who instructs me. But the point is that even if no one instructs me, I will pursue it myself as a citizen. The point is that clearly, LAZ has no appetite to pursue the issue. I can understand the position taken because we went to law schools individually, studied for the bar individually and got admitted to the bar individually; we took oath to defend the Constitution individually, not collectively. So every lawyer has the right to pursue this matter in the face of the Constitution,” Sangwa said.
And Sangwa said the petition against President Lungu’s nomination will be the shortest that he has ever worked on.
“Like I have said before, I am still polishing it up and it’s 98 per cent ready. When the time comes, we will simply file it and let the court decide. But there is no issue here as far as the Constitution is concerned. In fact, this is the shortest petition that I have ever worked on and the reason is simple, the issue is very specific. The court will be asked very specific questions and ones those questions are answered the issue will be resolved,” said Sangwa.