JOHN SANGWA WAS WRONG: The Constitution Amendment 2016 Provides For Early Elections- Peter Sinkamba



A couple of days ago, Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa, State Counsel, is quoted by various sections of the media to have said that former President Edgar Lungu’s suggestion of an early election reveals ignorance of the law, noting that the current Constitution does not provide for early elections.

As an active advocate for the referendum in 1990, and having been former Constitutional Review Commissioner, and participated in several constitution-making processes since the 1991 Mvunga Constitution Review Commission, I argue, with a very high degree of certainty, that SC Sangwa erred in the above statement attributed to him. Contrary to the assertion by Mr. Sangwa, the Constitutions of Zambia have always provided for early elections. This includes the Constitution Amendment 2016.

If only Mr. Sangwa had read and thoroughly understood Article 5 and 81 of the Constitution Amendment 2016, he would not have arrived at such an outrageous conclusion.

Article 5(1) of the Constitution provides that the sovereign authority vests in the people of Zambia, whichmay be exercised directly or through elected or appointed
representatives or institutions.

However, Article 5(3) adds that the people of Zambia shall exercise their reserved powerthrough a referendum, as prescribed. So, in line with this provision, if the people of Zambia demand overwhelmingly, at anytime during the 5- year electoral cycle, that they want general elections to be held before the date set in the Constitution, all that is required to be done is to hold a referendum. If the outcome of such referendum is in the affirmative, then elections will be held before the date set in the Constitution.

Alternatively, if the President thinks holding a referendum is unnecessary considering the overwhelming nature of the demand the President may proceed to dissolve Parliament and thereby cause the election to be held within 90 days of such dissolution of parliament. Like did Dr. Kaunda in 1990 when he realized the demand for the repeal of Article 4, which provided for One Party State, was overwhelming, he proceeded to reintroduce multipartysm without holding a referendum.

In the case of Article 81, if Members of Parliament make it difficult for government to pass any bill or refuse to participate in any parliamentary business, the President may be compelled to dissolve parliament and thereby cause the general elections to be held within 90 days of dissolution.

In view of the foregoing, it is very, very unfortunate that SC Sangwa labelled his brother ECL to be ignorant of the law, when in fact an early election is provided for in the Constitution Amendment 2016. And has always been provided in all constitutions since 1964.


  1. Very correct Mr. Sinkamba, what is coming out of this man, John Sangwa is that he’s already exhibiting traits of being selfish and greedy. He’s just not in favour of an early we election because he has interests in the presidency! So if an early elections is called he will be disadvantaged because he has no party to stand on, he won’t have time to sell himself! Of course every constitution of Zambia has had a cause for early elections since independence in 1964, so what is Sangwa talking about! Let him just form a party now before it’s too late instead of mis leading , mis informing Zambians, and embarrassing the former president.

      • Yes,there’s one. A fragrant disregard of constitutional governance is reigning just now!
        Triggers for elections have been highlighted very ably by Mr Sinkamba.

        I concede, there are literacy challenges in most Zambians even after nearly 60 years of independence.

  2. This is the problem with Sangwa. The guy is educated but can’t read! Does LAZ require CPD as something mandatory. Here is a lawyer that doesn’t update his legal knowledge – how embarrassing to be corrected by lay person with little legal training.

    • Interesting i notice that the constitution is specific in saying that the a president has immunity from CRIMINAL prosecution but it does not exclude a civil case being brought. The paragraph regarding civil cases relates to civil cases whilst the presidemt is in power so as the president is not distracted from his duties the section of the constitution is specific in that immunity is grom criminal prosecution. I look forward to all learned scholars for interpretations. Just looking from afar

  3. Those are impossibilities Mr Sinkamba.That is wishiful thinking.It is not necessary Sir, desperations can sometimes bring fake sweet dreams.The tenure of office prescribed in the constitution is paramount in less there is serious illness or mental issues on incumbent.But not an election,no .And where do you place the running mate.Why there is running mate?Mr Sinkamba don’t lose your credibility by talking about someone ‘s dreams.That is day dreaming.Mr Lungu wants to break the law so that he is arrested and his people then will bring a debate on violation of constitution hence impeachment proposals.Immunity is about period when one was in office.One is no longer president but breaks the law with impunity hoping immunity will help.Mr Trump is facing issues by June ending we shall hear, then we shall compare notes.

    • Please ask your doctor to increase the dose of the medication you’re taking. I think it’s no longer working cos you have completely lost it!


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