FORMER Kabushi PF member of parliament Bowman Lusambo says hearing the Constitutional Court’s ruling in his matter against ECZ was more like winning a general election to remove UPND from office.

And acting PF secretary general Nickson Chilangwa says the atmosphere in the country has become very toxic because President Hakainde Hichilema has failed to heal the country.

Reacting to the ConCourt’s ruling which held that a nullification did not equate to the disqualification of a candidate, Lusambo said people jubilated when the ruling was read because they had been living in fear.

He said there was so much persecution in the country that one could not even freely buy underwear without being questioned on the source of funds.

“The country yesterday was in a different mood as if the decision of the court has given the people of Zambia a new life. They thought they’ve changed government because this government has oppressed the people. So if you saw yesterday’s celebrations which came from all over this country, it is more like a general election which has been won to remove the UPND government. That’s the stage we’ve reached because people are being persecuted. People are living in fear. You cannot buy a pant from a boutique, they will come and tell you ‘where have you picked the money from? This is proceeds of crime’. This is a country we’re living in today. People are saying we cannot be ruled like we’re slaves because we’re an independent country. People were happy because it’s a victory before victory,” Lusambo said.

Lusambo said he expected the High Court to make a fair judgment by directing ECZ to call for fresh nominations.

“With the High Court judgment, we’re anticipating the same thing we saw from the Constitutional Court because these are straightforward matters. The ConCourt said the nullification and disqualification are two different things. They went further to describe disqualification and the circumstances of when a person is disqualified. The clause which ECZ used is not applicable. So there’s no two ways about it. Our learned men and women in the Judiciary have started working and they will throw out this case and direct the ECZ to do the right thing because it’s already determined,” said Lusambo.

“What we’re seeking in the High Court is similar to what we were seeking in the ConCourt. The ConCourt is the Supreme Court of our country. So I am pretty sure that even the High Court will draw the same line. They cannot change. The Judiciary is full of integrity. Their job requires them to be morally upright and full of integrity. They cannot be compromised so we expect them to do the right thing.”

Meanwhile, Chilangwa said the country was very toxic.

“Unfortunately, the country has been poisoned and the atmosphere in the country is very toxic. President Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND had an opportunity to heal this country, to do things differently but they have squandered it. I don’t know what’s going on in their heads. I don’t know if they think intimidating and arresting people left, right and centre is right. You’re raping the law. I have told all investigative officers to be firm but fair, Zambians must be treated fairly. This excitement is going to die very soon,” he said.

Chilangwa said ECZ was being used by the Executive.

“The courts of law must be our lost resort, especially the ConCourt. The ruling that came yesterday was a very important ruling. This was what was expected. When ECZ issued that awful statement where they wanted to be interpreters of the law, I called the ECZ acting chief executive officer, I think Mr Lloyd Kabwe, he never picked my call. I sent him a message in the middle of the night. I said ‘do not do this, do not sink ECZ to these levels. You’re in an acting capacity and you want to sink it to this level?’ I called the PR who signed that document and I said this is an injustice. So we have been vindicated. The only thing ECZ can do is to ensure that Lusambo and Malanji are on the ballot next week because the ConCourt’s ruling must be upheld. When we’re in public office, let’s not be carried away with the wind. Let’s be fair because Zambia belongs to all of us,” said Chilangwa.

“I think the colleagues at ECZ don’t have the spine to stand up to political interference. I believe there was political interference and I don’t think they made an independent decision. I don’t know why the UPND grows goose pimples when they hear Lusambo or Malanji’s names, they go into tantrums. The Executive should not micromanage ECZ, Legislature or the Judiciary. They must not even go there. This country will go into a bigger mess than they have taken it already.”