CONSTITUTIONAL lawyer John Sangwa says it is a scandal that some law enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) have only become active after a change of government.
And Sangwa says Zambians rejected Edgar Lungu as an individual and not the Patriotic Front as a whole, which is why UPND will have to work with the former ruling party to pass certain laws in Parliament.
Meanwhile, Sangwa says there is need to review all existing laws to ensure that they conform to various provisions of the Constitution.
Speaking when he featured on Diamond TV’s Breakfast show, Thursday, Sangwa said public institutions were not supposed to be dependent on who was in power.
“I would characterize the last 10 years of PF rule as the lost years in Zambia largely because there was general decay in every aspect especially in the running of public institutions. First of all, it is very sad because we politicize the work of these institutions because law enforcement agencies should not have allegiance to any political party. What you are now seeing, for example, there are reports of DEC coming up with doing this and that but it should not be the case. DEC should have been doing that even before the change of government. The function of public institutions should not be dependent on who is in power and who is not in power. These institutions should be able to work irrespective of the party that is in power,” Sangwa said.
“The fact that they are coming out is very sad, it is actually a scandal when you look at it. It means that these institutions were totally defunct. Because of that, those people who will now be arrested post 24th August 2021, they may politicize these issues to say we are being arrested and prosecuted because there is a new government. That should not be the case. For instance, if at all they committed crimes even before 24th August, DEC should have been in a position to be able to do its work irrespective of who is in power. So those are serious challenges and these are the problems we experienced in the last 10 years where institutions of government were basically broken down and they were not functioning.”
And Sangwa said citizens rejected Lungu and not necessarily PF as evidenced by the number of PF parliamentary seats.
“I think we have to be realistic. Let us not imagine an alternative reality or manufacture a reality then we begin to believe in it and this is what killed PF. As a country, we need to accept the fact that the outcome of this election is basically a rejection of Edgar Lungu as an individual, not necessarily the rejection of PF as a political party. That is evident in the performance of the party and vis-à-vis the performance of Edgar Lungu as a Presidential candidate. PF has over 50 seats and this is a significant number and in effect by denying UPND two-thirds majority. The message from the people is simply that we do not like Edgar Lungu and we want him replaced and they have done that. At a political party level, the citizens are saying, we like UPND but we will not give you an absolute majority. You have no choice but to work with PF on critical issues. That is what the numbers tell you,” Sangwa said.
“If there was a complete rejection of PF, what we would have seen is possibly UPND on its own getting maybe 110 seats which was the case in 1991 and 1996 where MMD had an absolute majority and it could do anything without requiring the input of UNIP as an opposition. Right now, given the numbers as they stand, even UPND with its elected numbers plus the nominated members and even if you add all independent members of parliament, you still do not get a two-thirds majority. This means that on businesses of the House which will require two-thirds majority, UPND will have no choice but to work together with PF as a political party. Not with the culture of trying to bribe members of parliament like we witnessed. That is not how a democratic system works. The people’s message is UPND and PF will work together at a party level in terms of the business of the House. That was a rejection of Edgar Lungu as an individual.”
Meanwhile, Sangwa said there was need to review all existing laws to make sure that they conformed to various provisions of the Constitution.
“One of the problems that we have never done in this country, I think since independence in 1964 is to carry out a review of the law. We have had a constitution since 1964 but one of the things we have not done is to be able to review all existing laws to make sure that they conform to the constitution. So unless that is done, we will continue to have these challenges. Since the new government has declared its commitment to the rule of law, one of the things I would advocate for is to be able to initiate a process which no previous government has ever done to review all the laws of Zambia to make sure that they conform to the various provisions of the constitution. Those laws that offend the constitution as the supreme law of the land, those laws must be repealed,” said Sangwa.