TWO very important admissions have been made in the political arena this week; one from the ruling Patriotic Front and another from the opposition United Party for National Development. The Patriotic Front has finally agreed with the Law Association of Zambia that the Constitutional Court did not declare President Edgar Lungu eligible to contest the 2021 general election. According to PF Central Committee member and chairman of the legal affairs committee, Brian Mundubule, the court only dealt with the definition of the term of office.

On the other hand, the UPND has finally come to terms with the fact that there is something that the party is not doing right, given its poor performance in by-elections, and the numerous general election losses. The party national elections chairman Gary Nkombo admits that the party needs to button up, instead of always blaming the system for the losses. We have so much to say about this interesting admission from the UPND, and we are glad that this is coming from a very high ranking member of the party whom we believe is speaking with insight. But today, we first want to comment on the PF’s admission.

Honourable Mundubile makes a very interesting observation regarding President Lungu’s eligibility. He says the party is aware of the fact that there are several eligibility criteria for one to stand as President, and that one of them dictates that a person wishing to stand as President of the Republic of Zambia must not have served two terms of office. He agrees with Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Abyudi Shonga State Counsel who explained last week that the ConCourt did not deal with the eligibility issue of President Lungu.

“One side of the argument was that President Lungu was ineligible to stand in 2021 because he had served two terms of office; our side of the argument was that he was eligible because he had not served two terms of office. We therefore agree with the position taken by LAZ that the only issue the Court dealt with decisively in its judgement was that of the term of office because questions of the other eligibility criteria were not brought before the court,” said Mundubile.

This was hard to believe. We had to listen to Honourable Mundubile’s recording several times just to make sure that indeed, he was making this admission because in our view, this raises a lot of questions. This admission means the Patriotic Front also agrees that whoever wishes to challenge the eligibility of President Lungu will have every right to go back to the Constitutional Court to seek a declaration that the incumbent is not qualified to stand again in 2021, and the court will have to make a ruling within 21 days.

So then ,we ask, why has the Patriotic Front been lying to the people of Zambia that the Constitutional Court already declared President Lungu eligible to stand in 2021? This misinformation has been peddled by senior officials of the party, among them, deputy government chief whip Honourable Tutwa Ngulube and Eastern Province Minister Honourable Makebi Zulu. Why have these people been lying to the people of Zambia?

Second question is: if the Patriotic Front now agrees that the Constitutional Court did not deal with any eligibility issue, why is the party fighting citizens like John Sangwa who are waiting for Mr Lungu to file his nomination papers so that they can ask the court to look back at this matter and pronounce itself on whether the President is eligible or not? Why are you saying there is no more debate about Mr Lungu’s eligibility when you know that no court has declared him eligible?

The third question we have for the Patriotic front is: if they know that the court has not declared eligible him yet, why is the party insisting that Mr Lungu is the sole candidate for 2021? Why is the party expelling those who express interest to challenge President Lungu at the party convention? What gives them the confidence that the Constitutional Court will rule in President Lungu’s favour on this matter? What agreement do they have with the ConCourt judges? What have they promised them in exchange for this ruling?

The final and probably most important question is on Bill 10. If the Patriotic Front is so confidence that President Lungu is eligible to stand again in 2021, and that the ConCourt cannot rule against them, why are they desperate to repeal Article 52 of the Constitution which states in section (4) that: “A person may challenge, before a court or tribunal, as prescribed, the nomination of a candidate within seven days of the close of nomination and the court shall hear the case within twenty one days of its lodgment”? What is wrong with this provision of the law?

This is what we mean when we say that we are being ruled by mafias. The crooks in this government come up with false information to mislead the public and they spread lies without any shame. They have been lying that Bill 10 is about women and youth empowerment, that it is about the plight of the disabled. Some have gone to the extent of saying Bill 10 will bring professionalism in the police service. What a bunch of liars! Here is the truth about Bill 10 – it starts and ends with the desire to prolong President Lungu’s stay in power. That’s what it is all about, and thieves are supporting it because they want continued protection.