SOME right thinking members of the Patriotic Front have been engaging in very constructive debates in their circles around the consequences of ignoring the Constitution regarding the eligibility case. These senior members of the ruling party are concerned that while they can point at a few roads which they have constructed, the economic indicators are pointing in the opposite direction. The cost of living has reached unimaginable levels, the dollar has moved from K16 to K22 in less than a year. They are concerned that the leadership has isolated itself from the general population and this has put the party and the country on a very dangerous path. As the August elections draw near, these leaders want one thing, “President Edgar Lungu should do the honourable thing and open up the leadership contest.”

We agree. The leadership of PF is not listening to the people; the policies they are pursuing are not what were in Michael Sata’s PF. This problem started with the fact that the PF has abandoned it’s original 2011 manifesto. This party was meant to be pro-poor, it was meant to be for the poor citizens, not the rich tenderpreneurs who have captured it. The party still has a chance to make things right for Zambia, but that will call for a new presidential candidate, a new vice-president and central committee. We have said it before that the issue of Mr Edgar Lungu standing for the third time is not a PF issue. It’s about Zambia.

We have noticed that the PF has remained adamant. They insist that the Constitutional Court already ruled on the matter. Unfortunately for them, the Constitutional Court judgment they keep referring to does not help them in any way as the issue of whether a period served of less than three years constitutes a term of office is not the issue at hand. This is simply because those provisions are only applicable to a sitting Vice-President elected as a running mate. And in any event, the Constitutional Court did not even deal with President Lungu’s eligibility in this year’s election. So the judgement that the PF is relying on does not exist. It’s a ghost judgement, and if they don’t apply their brains, they will end up having no candidate.

We reiterate our warning to all PF members and their sympathisers that PF will have no candidate in the 2021 election if the party insists on adopting Mr Lungu at its convention. The game they are playing is very dangerous because they seem to think that they can intimidate judges into declaring Mr Lungu eligible, but they must think again. Once the National Assembly is dissolved, even a former Cabinet minister who was sitting next to the President can rise against him. Look at what has happened with the ruling on Grade 12 Certificate. Just in that ruling, the ConCourt has disqualified a significant number of ministers and PF members of parliament who have been singing praises for Mr Lungu and endorsing him as a sole candidate. Their game is over!

Our point is that gambling with a contested candidate like Mr Lungu will give PF a shock that they will not recover from. The PF must be reminded that under our electoral rules and practice, a candidate that misses an appointed time and date to file in his or her nomination cannot be given another time or day to file in nomination papers and the same applies to a party that chooses to sponsor an ineligible candidate such as President Lungu. PF therefore needs to look for another candidate or can choose to escort the opposition to State House if they insist on sponsoring Mr Lungu who does not qualify to run for President again. This sounds like a foolish statement to make today, but a time will come when the Constitution and rule of law will reign supreme in this land.

It’s the duty of every Zambian regardless of one’s affiliation or status to stand up and defend the republican Constitution from manipulation and mutilation to accommodate one individual in the name of the President. Our judges may not be enjoying the most in terms of public confidence, but we still believe that Zambia is a country of laws and they are capable of defending the Constitution.