I have only served once as President – Lungu

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Former president Edgar Lungu

FORMER president Edgar Lungu has backed up the sentiments by his supporters that he was not sworn into office of President twice.

Submitting before the Constitutional Court in a matter where youth activist Michelo Chizombe is questioning his third bid to participate in the 2021 general elections and future presidential elections, Lungu swore that he has never served two terms as alleged by Chizombe.

In this matter Chizombe wants the Court to declare that Lungu’s participation in the previous election was unconstitutional.

Chizombe who has cited Lungu, the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Attorney General as respondents in the matter indicated that Lungu contravened the constitution when he participated in the August 12, 2021 general elections.

He stated that the electoral body contravened the constitution when it accepted Lungu’s nomination and allowed him to be on the ballot paper for the 2021 presidential elections which enabled him to participate.

The petitioner wants the Court to pronounce that Lungu is not eligible to contest a presidential election under the current constitution as read with the now repealed 1991 Constitution (as amended).

He wants the Court to declare that it was illegal for ECZ to include Lungu on the ballot.

Chizombe is seeking a combined interpretation of Sections 7 of Act no.1 of 2016 and Section 2 of the same Act.

He also wants the Court to declare that the entire Article 106 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act no. 2 of 2016 did not apply to Lungu’s first presidential term.

Chizombe is further seeking a declaration that Lungu is not eligible to seek presidential office for a third term.

But in his answer to the petition, the former president argued that the ConCourt had already pronounced itself on his eligibility debate when it cleared all constitutional hurdles for his attempt at third term.

He said a dissenting judgement by Court president Margaret Munalula cannot be relied upon to set a precedent.

In July 2021 professor Munalula dissented the ruling of the majority which decreed that Lungu’s first term in office was not a complete term as defined by Article 106(6) as it was inherited from late President Micheal Sata.

This was in a case where Legal Resources Foundation Limited, historian Sishuwa Sishuwa and Chapter One Foundation petitioned Lungu for abrogating the law when he filed in his nomination papers as the PF presidential candidate in the August 12, 2021 general elections after assuming the office of President twice.

Judge Munalula had ruled that the term which Lungu concluded on behalf of late President Sata was not inherited as it was a full term although it lasted for 19 months.

She said Lungu was barred by Article 106(3) of the Constitution from running for presidency.

However Lungu argues that the reasoning of the majority aligns with established principles and precedents.

He said Chizombe missed an opportunity to challenge his qualification for the election when the issue was taken to Court under three different petitions.

“A dissenting judgement does not represent the majority opinion which set out legal precedent. Relying on a dissenting judgement indicates that Chizombe has no case,”Lungu said.

“The first respondent (Lungu) will aver at trial that he has not served two terms as alleged by the petitioner.”

He added that the Court should embrace the principle of finality in legal decisions, and consider the grim effects of setting aside a decision that was rightfully made in his favour.

“This court should thoroughly review all relevant legal provisions and the majority decisions was not made in ignorance of any applicable law,” said Lungu.

By Mwaka Ndawa

Kalemba November 21, 2023.

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