By PERPETUAL SICHIKWENKWE –
ATTORNEY General Likando Kalaluka and lawyers representing President Edgar Lungu have insisted that he is eligible to contest the 2021 presidential elections and should not be excluded from the race on the basis of Article 106 (5) which is discriminatory against his circumstances.
Mr Kalaluka has urged the court to speed up the determination of the matter before the country got politically charged and went into political turmoil as the 2021 elections approached.
Mr Kalaluka, Solicitor General, Abraham Mwansa, Mr Lungu’s lawyers Bonaventure Mutale and Milingo Lungu individually submitted before a panel of seven Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judges yesterday that Article 106 of the current Constitution was absurd, unfair and discriminatory against Mr Lungu as it excluded his circumstances because he took over office before it came into effect on January 5,
2015 after he had taken over office to conclude late leader Micheal Sata’s term.
The other judges are Anna Sitali, Mungeni Mulenga, Enock Mulembe, Professor Margerate Munalula, Palan Mulonda and Martin Museluke.
Mr Kalaluka said Mr Lungu should not be discriminated against on the basis that he took office before the current Constitution was assented to, but that the issue of whether or not he was eligible to contest, should be determined by the use of the current Constitution.
He said Mr Lungu, like other officers who served from January 2015 to September 2016, did not serve a full presidential term and was therefore eligible to contest the 2021 elections.
Four opposition political party leaders led by Christian Democratic Party leader Dan Pule have asked the ConCourt to determine whether or not Mr Lungu would have served two full terms at the expiry of the current term and whether as a matter of Constitutional law he was eligible to contest presidential elections in 2021.
Mr Kalaluka also submitted to the court that the matter of eligibility had generated much public debate and it was the expectation and aspirations of Zambians that the court would expeditiously deal with the matter.
Mr Kalaluka said to postpone the determination of the matter was not in the best interest of the public as it would lead to hardships not only to the parties alone, but Zambians in general.
“I urge this court not to turn a blind eye to political intricacies and difficulties that would arise from such suspense,” he said.
The Solicitor General, Mr Mwansa said Mr Lungu was eligible to contest the 2021 elections if he so wished, as he had not yet served two terms.
He said the provision of Article 106 (5) was absurd and that the incumbent would be deemed to have held office as a President twice in 2021, but would not have served two terms.
John Sangwa, lawyer representing the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) said Mr Kalaluka’s submissions that Article 106 was discriminatory against Mr Lungu was a moral issue and not based on law.
Mr Sangwa said that what was at play in the matter was that the incumbent was refusing to be bound by the law.
He said all Zambians were limited by the Constitution and that not everyone could be expected to like what it stipulated.
Mr Sangwa disagreed with Mr Kalaluka that the article in question was discriminatory, arguing that if it was indeed discriminatory, then the answer was not before the ConCourt.
He said the court could not pronounce itself on Mr Lungu’s interest when he had not brought the matter before the court himself and that the PF could not be used to take care of the issue on his behalf as it was a personal issue, not that of a party.
The matter continues today.