SOLICITOR General Abraham Mwansa says it is sad that senior lawyers and State Counsel in the country are championing the debate on President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility when it is a settled matter.
Constitutional Lawyer John Sangwa has vowed to challenge the eligibility of President Edgar Lungu in the Constitutional Court, even if it appear clear that LAZ has no appetite to hire his services in doing so.
“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,” said Sangwa.
“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.”
But in an interview, Mwansa said the refusal by some lawyers to accept the decision of the court showed disrespect to the court systems.
“We have a Constitution and the Constitution is the highest law that we have in this land and in that constitution we assign a mandate to our court system, the Judiciary, and we have the Supreme Court and the Constitution Court which are the highest courts in this land. And whose judgments are not appealable. The Constitution Court in the case of Danny Pule and others vs the Attorney General made it very clear upon interpretation of certain of our constitutional provisions that the incumbent President has not served two terms because the other term straddled two constitutional regimes and a law cannot be applied retrospectively,” Mwansa said.
“And I don’t know why this particular debate has been extended time and again because once a Supreme Court, a superior court whose judgments are not appealable decides upon a matter, the judgment of the court is supposed to be respected. The challenge I have is why should people go on with the debate when the matter is settled? Why should they go on with the debate? And the sad thing is that some of these debates have been championed by very senior lawyers, some of them State Counsel who were part and parcel of the court proceedings before the Constitutional Court. I think for me it shows on the part of those lawyers, it shows a great disrespect for our court systems because you have to accept that the court has decided and you move on.”
Mwansa said the court’s decision on the President’s eligibility was not appealable.
“Until the law is amended but if the law is not amended it remains a law. As far as I am concerned, it is a settled matter and we can’t keep on debating and swaying people away from what they are supposed to hear. Whoever has a good agenda for this country, let them put forth their agenda and the people of Zambia will decide. The court has decided and unfortunately it is not appealable,” said Mwansa.