By Patson Chilemba

Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa says Defence minister Davies Chama is threatening the judiciary that there will be chaos in the country if they rule against President Edgar Lungu’s eligibility in 2021.

Speaking with Daily Revelation, in responding to Chama’s statement that that no person can be irresponsible to challenge President Lungu’s legibility, saying they will fail to control what will happen as the filing of nominations is highly volatile and charged with emotion, Mwitwa said petitioners must not fear petitioning the President’s eligibility, saying LAZ looked at things from the perspective of the law.

He said the role of the judiciary was to look at matters from the basis of law and facts, and not anything beyond that.

“The question is does the law provide for a means to challenge the eligibility of any candidate? That is the starting point. So if anybody is going to court and they are premising their case on constitutional provisions or provisions of the Electoral Processes Act, the only question is the court has to determine the matter on the basis of the facts and the law,” Mwitwa said. “What comes out of that, that is never the judiciary’s aim, I mean to look at things beyond the letter of the law. Whatever Honourable Chama is talking about I mean those should not be the considerations of the court.”

Citing the example of Malawi where the courts looked at the facts and law in annulling the election of former president Peter Mutharika following widespread rigging, Mwitwa said the judiciary in that country was courageous enough to make a decision that was not favouring the former president.

“But they had to make a decision in the face of the facts that they were presented with, and the law. And for us that should be the main consideration, to uphold the law, regardless of who the candidates are,” he said.

Asked if Chama’s words were in any way sending a message to party cadres on how they must react to the matter, Mwitwa said absolutely, adding that there was something in the statement that can have a chilling effect on the courts.

“It’s almost a threat on the judiciary to say if you make a decision that is not going to be favorable to our candidate then there is going to be chaos. I think that is a very very dangerous statement,” Mwitwa said.

Mwitwa said petitioners must not fear, as all the citizens of Zambia have an obligation to defend and uphold the Republican constitution.

“The one thing that no one should ever be encouraged to do is to promote lawlessness, but as long as something is founded on the law the court are duty bound to adjudicate upon that matter,” said Mwitwa.

Speaking with Daily Revelation, Chama said it was mischievous of those that were contemplating to challenge President Lungu’s eligibility to file-in the nominations in 2021, over legal arguments that he does not qualify to stand having been sworn-in twice as President. He said anyone harbouring such thoughts was not patriotic, as even the courts will not entertain such moves.

“And you know when filing nominations it’s a very highly volatile, potentially charged in terms of emotions, there are crowds at the courts and then you just come up with such, imagine what will happen. You will fail to control what will happen,” Chama said, arguing that President Lungu was eligible. “We can’t even imagine that a person can be such irresponsible unless a person who is not patriotic enough, they want to cause unnecessary tension in the nation. That will not be condoned. I don’t think the courts will be such irresponsible.”


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