The debate on whether President Edgar Lungu qualifies to contest in the 2021 elections has put Zambia’s respect for the rule of law to test, reports Zambian Eye Correspondent.
President Lungu’s Patriotic Front party has resolved to have him as its sole presidential candidate for the much anticipated 2021 polls.
The matter was subject for discussion in a televised programme yesterday (12th March 2020) and constitutional experts unraveled the matter.
During the phone-in session of the programme many callers were asking as to what the country’s constitution say regarding the issue.
Conditional Lawyers maintain that he is no longer eligible, after having had been voted into the office of the president on two occasions.
After the death of President Michael Sata in 2014, Lungu was nominated as the PF Presidential candidate for the 2015 by-elections to determine who would finish off Sata’s term.
He won the election and was sworn into the highest office of the land on 25th January 2015.
He was then elected (again) for a full term in 2016, and assumed office on 13th September 2016.
According to law experts, on the technicality of having had been elected twice, Lungu does not qualify to seek a third term in 2021.
Background of the matter, political commentator Brebner Changala once told a local publication the other day, that the ruling party should search for someone who is eligible to contest in 2021 on its ticket.
He said the PF is misguided in thinking that Lungu qualifies banking their argument on a Constitutional ruling saying the very judgement they are basing on does not clearly states that Lungu is eligible.
According to the judgement whose verdict the PF is basing on, a president may only serve two terms. But, sections of the Constitution state that a third term of less than three years served as stand in president do not amount three terms and only applies to a Vice president who assumes office in an event of a vacancy.
The court could however not give ruling in the case of President Lungu who was not Vice president. It just interpreted what constitutes a term of office. That a person can occupy the office of the president for a period which is less than a full term (less than 3 years) in addition to two full terms.
In that regard, a person can take over an unexpired term and as long as the person do not serve more than three years in that unexpired term, it is not regarded as a full term which applies to the Vice president.
Meanwhile, Constitutional lawyer who has ignite the debate after a ConCourt ruling John Sangwa has maintained that President Lungu does not qualify to stand for another term.
He said Lungu was elected twice to the Presidential office and therefore according to the Constitution, he cannot seek a third term.
“You can’t have a third term, you can’t go for a third term. There is no provision for a third term in our Constitution,” he said during Television discussion where he was hosted together with a PF member who is also a lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube.
He urged the Electoral Commission of Zambia to reject Lungu’s nomination papers when he files them seeking to be elected for a third term.
He added that the other way to stop Lungu from contesting is by rejecting Bill 10, this bill has a provision that seeks to repeal the right to challenge the nomination of the Presidential candidate.
Fube who played a big role in Lungu’s election in both 2014 and 2016 also said he does not qualify to contest in 2021. He said LUNGU must think twice and avoid embrassing himself when his papers are rejected in nomination.
Fine who is also running to be adopted by the PF at the convention said there is still room for the party to rebrand by getting a new candidate.