ROBERT Sichinga

I HAVE LITTLE CONFIDENCE CONCOURT WILL RULE AGAINST LUNGU’S THIRD TERM BID – SICHINGA…bringing up Lungu’s legitimacy case before them is an academic exercise
By Patson Chilemba
The Constitutional Court is not worth the paper its written on, and bringing the Edgar Lungu eligibility case before them will just be an academic exercise, says former commerce minister Bob Sichinga.

Speaking with Daily Revelation, Sichinga said the law was very clear that President Edgar Lungu does not qualify to stand again, given that he has twice been sworn-in and twice held office, but he had very little confidence the constitutional court would rule against the President if his nomination were challenged, as State Counsel John Sangwa has vowed.
He said the spotlight will therefore be on the constitutional court to rule in line with the provisions of the constitution.

“And I think that the whole issue of the constitutional court, truthfully this constitutional court is not worth the paper its written on, and I am being very truthful to you. Because they are making decisions with a particular person in mind, and I don’t agree with their interpretation (over the previous case brought before them),” Sichinga said. “It (Lungu’s eligibility) puts the spotlight on the court, but more importantly this constitutional court has proven to me, and remember John Sangwa has said very clearly they are not qualified. What will be their reaction to him? They must recuse themselves. The whole constitutional court must recuse itself.”

Sichinga said bringing such a hot issue involving the President before the constitutional court, which he said was not qualified and had self interests to preserve, would merely be an academic exercise.

“We need to involve other parties other than this constitutional court . If there was a Supreme Court above this constitutional court I would have said then you can go to that Supreme Court. It is not the case. For me judges in their own case they will protect their own interests and this is where the independence of the constitutional court (comes in). It’s independent on paper but they have an interest because they were told they are not qualified, second because they are appointed by one person,” Sichinga said. “It’s an academic exercise. And as far as I’m concerned this constitutional court is not qualified. This is a case that now goes to the SADC court; it goes to the AU court; it goes to the United Nations Court all these. We must ascend beyond the constitutional court of Zambia. Why? Because they were told they are not qualified and this pronunciation that they have given to me it shows that they are biased. They are not acting independently they are thinking (about) their positions within the judiciary rather than interpreting the law.”
Sichinga said in the previous case, the court did not pronounce itself directly on President Lungu, but they took a theoretical position where they were talking about provisions in the constitution, by implying that if Lungu where to take the case before them, such would be the outcome.

Sichinga said what was paramount with regards the provision on term limits, was the primary provision on one holding office, saying the term referred to is conterminous with the term of parliament, as the two were tied together.

“Article 106 the issues are as follows, the president shall serve two five years terms. However, connected to that, implicit, and I am saying implicit, in that the president does not run on his own, his term is conterminous with the term of parliament…other words he doesn’t stand on his own, he does not have a separate term of office. His term is connected to that of parliament,” Sichinga said. “They introduced in there, not the people, they introduced in that 2016 constitution the issue of ‘if you have not served a certain number of years’, that in itself is a lacuna and what is saying is that if the person that replaces the president has not even done half of that term then immediately you say that there is a lacuna. What that is doing is that that sub article is overriding the principle article. The principle article says you will serve two terms period, any sub article which says 106 sub-this is subsidiary it cannot override the first consideration.”
Sichinga said the PF has failed to define the particular period 2015-2016 President Lungu served as president.

“They are reading the sub article without emphasizing the requirement of the main article which says two terms. Any time you say he can serve over and above the two terms, it means that he has to serve at least three times which is against the principle article which says two terms,” Sichinga said. “If Lungu did not want to serve less that five years he had the option, to say am not going in now. I will wait so that I can have my full term.”
He said the subsidiary clause saying one could not be said to have served a full term if they had served less than three years, was included after President Lungu realised that his first term of office from 2015-2016 was too short.

“As far as I am concerned he was on a ballot paper in January of 2015, correct? He was elected, correct? He was sworn in correct? He took office, correct? As far as I am concerned the whole period from January 2015 to August 2016 is a term,” Sichinga said. “It is not a full five years, but the five years he was talking about was that the tenure of presidency will run for a term of five years concurrent with parliament?…when he stands in August 2021 he will be putting his name on the ballot for the third time. He will be serving a third term.”

Sichinga wondered whether the country had a president or not between the period 2015-2016 if those supporting Lungu were saying he was finishing another person’s term.
“Because they said it must be read in whole and not in part, and the first part they should read is the main article. What did Zambians want. They don’t want anybody to serve more than two terms,” said Sichinga. -Daily Revelation


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here