The opposition UPND is lamenting that the Constitutional Court ruling on the Grade 12 Certificate will affect the party much more than it did in 2016. According to the party national spokesperson Mr Cornelius Mweetwa, this development will have dire consequences on both the UPND and the ruling Patriotic Front. He says he knows this because as MPs they talk at Parliament and they all agree that this will pause a challenge on finding candidates.

MWEETWA: “We also want to comment on the issue of the Constitutional Court ruling about the grade 12 certificate. Since this ruling is coming from the courts, we as UPND, will oblige and respect the ruling of the court. But we are quick to state that this ruling with its ramifications or implications will affect us as a party in coming up with candidates, especially at councillor-level. It will affect us, especially in rural areas. I believe even the PF had challenges because we talk at Parliament there, we agreed that this was challenging.”

Indeed, the Patriotic Front is also lamenting about this ruling. Just a few days ago, the PF secretary general was telling his party members that his office is now consulting the Attorney General and the Electoral Commission of Zambia on how to proceed with the interpretation of the Grade 12 Certificate.

Our people must be reminded that the Constitutional Court did not pass this law. The judges of that court never sit in Parliament to propose laws, it is the UPND and the PF who are the majority in the House that passed this law. All what the court has done is to tell them that don’t run away from the law that you passed. If you decided that MPs and Councilors must possess a Grade 12 Certificate, let that law be respected. So it shocks us that the people who debated this law through all the stages of the Constitution amendment bill can now come and start blaming the Constitutional Court for the consequences that it has brought. If you all agree when you talk at Parliament that this was a bad law, as Mr Mweetwa admits, why did you not strike it out?

There is nothing that the Attorney General can say that is different from what the court has said. He can’t change the law. So those aspiring candidates, MPs and ministers who do not have Grade 12 Certificates have themselves to blame. The reason why they have a problem with the decision of the court and wish the Electoral Commission could reverse it, is because they are used to violating the Constitution and they have been doing it without consequences. They can’t believe that a simple Grade 12 document can end their political journey. So they want to manipulate the law.

In our opinion, the court has simply done what they are supposed to do – enforcing the law without looking at the faces of the people who may be affected. It is always refreshing when the courts stick to the law. We must be proud as a country when the Judicial arm of government implements what the law says. And we are saying this should be extended to all the other matters that require the Constitutional Court ruling. If you the law says as President-elect you are supposed to be sworn in by the Chief Justice or the deputy Chief Justice, that must be done without any shortcuts or substitutes. If the law says a person who has twice held the office of President cannot stand again, that must be respected.

The law is simply what it is. If the court has ruled that it is six subjects including English with one Credit or five subjects including English with two credits, nobody should go to the nomination center with a degree or doctorate without this prescribed Grade 12 certificate. The law says if you hold a PHD, we don’t care. If this is a bad law, go back to parliament and change it, but don’t bend the rules that are stated in the Constitution. It’s not the Constitutional Court that wants a Grade 12 Certificate, it’s the Republican Constitution that you amended.

Those MPs and ministers who are unhappy with this development must learn to read the documents that they debate in Parliament. MPs should read the bills that are brought before the House. If someone brings the Cyber Crimes Bill, examine it, read it, understand its ramifications, don’t just support because you are in the ruling party. One day you will be out of power and these laws you are passing today will come back to haunt you. Look now, the president you were trying to impress has stayed in the race, but your game is over. Why? Because you supported a bill that you did not fully understand.