THROWBACK: Odds are against me – Lungu

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As published by The Post Newspaper on 14 May, 2016

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says he knows that the odds of him being voted back in office are against him, but reaffirmed his trust in God for election victory.

And President Lungu has disagreed with his Attorney General Likando Kalaluka’s statement that after Parliament is dissolved, there should be no ministers in office, saying Zambians have a bad reading culture which was making them misunderstand the Constitution.

Speaking at a State House press conference yesterday, President Lungu said sometimes when he feels low, he goes home to sit with his grandchildren who make him happy because he knows that the odds are against him.

He said this when he was asked to comment on former vice-president Dr Guy Scott’s move to the UPND, together with several other ministers.

“When I feel low, I go home to sit with my grandchildren because they make me happy. I know that all odds are against me but with God, they will not manage to bring me down,” President Lungu said.

“I feel sorry for those who think they can bring me down; they won’t manage because God is on my side. Talking of Dr Guy Scott…ooh my God, what do you want me to say about these people? In January 2015, they were all against me but I thumped them and this time I will annihilate them and posterity will judge them.”

And President Lungu disagreed with Kalaluka on the dissolution of Cabinet.

Featuring on the ZNBC Sunday Interview to analyse the amendments to the Constitution after President Lungu assented to it, Kalaluka explained that once Parliament is dissolved, no person serving as minister or Vice-President should remain in office.

“By operation of the law, the Constitution Act number one says that the Vice-President, ministers, deputy ministers, will continue in office until the President terminates their contract. And by application of the law, until Parliament is dissolved,” said Likando.

“That is, Parliament will have to be dissolved sometime in May so when Parliament is dissolved, there will be no ministers or deputy ministers in office.”

But President Lungu said Zambians have a very bad reading culture and that is why they fail to interpret the law.

“Let me state here that this culture of not reading is very embarrassing. To start with, article 62(1) states that there is established the Parliament of Zambia which consists of the President and National Assembly. It’s therefore clear from this provision that I as President, I am part of Parliament. Article 81(3) states that Parliament shall stand dissolved 90 days before the election but here I am as President,” President Lungu argued.

“If I am President and I have the Cabinet which I have appointed, why should I dissolve that Cabinet? I have actually dissolved Parliament today [yesterday] …but how do I vacate State House? And considering that the President is part of Parliament, one would like to think that the President should vacate office upon dissolution of Parliament. However, this is not the case because there are other provisions of the Constitution that allow for the President’s continuation in office. Article 104 of the Constitution allows me to continue until a new President is sworn in. So I have to hand over, so how do I vacate office?”

He said the same law applied to the Vice-President and ministers.

“Even the Vice-President has to continue until a new one is sworn in. So where is the argument coming from? Even if there is power for me to appointment ministers from Parliament, it doesn’t mean ministers’ powers end in the House; even the Speaker and his deputy stay in office, Parliament has been dissolved but they still remain…,” President Lungu said.

“…so countrymen and women, the Constitution allows ministers to continue in office. This is to ensure that there is no break in the delivery of service by the executive arm of government. Government is at all times expected to run. I have heard assertions that the ministries can be run under the leadership of permanent secretaries in the absence of the ministers. Article 116(2) provides that a minister shall be responsible under the direction of the President for the policy and strategy direction of a ministry, department or other state institution as assigned by the President. This clearly indicates that the above function is the preserve of ministers and not permanent secretaries. It is therefore my considered view that the Constitution of Zambia allows ministers to continue in office after dissolution of Parliament in order to ensure that there is service delivery and smooth handover to the executive.”

He challenged lawyers who do not agree with his interpretation to go to court.

“Having seriously interrogated the law and in the interest of governance to continue, I will run government with my Cabinet! Lawyers that want can go to court but I am ready to debate with them over the issue because I am also a lawyer,” President Lungu bragged as several ministers who attended the press conference cheered in support.

“Shame to those people who don’t read. I beg you people to read…people are debating things they don’t know.”

He also warned that the police would deal with anybody who would try to harass or effect a citizen’s arrest on a minister using government facilities.

“On the issue of violence on ministers, the law will take its course. I talk slowly but I carry a big stick. Let them dare harass ministers and permanent secretaries, they will see. They should just obey the law because they are still ministers; they should know that I carry a big stick but I rarely use it; I can get at wrongdoers and law breakers bakashala muli mwamoneni [they will have themselves to blame] because there is no room for violence in Zambia,” said President Lungu.

By Abel Mboozi  

Credit: The Post: http://www.postzambia.com/

Published by The Post Newspaper on 14 May, 2016

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