Canada-based lawyer Elias Munshya Wa Munshya has is sticking his neck out telling President Edgar Lungu he was not eligible to contest the 2021 presidential election because he would have served out his two terms and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term mandate.
Munshya says the fact that the constitution has been amended is not sufficient ground to qualify the growing argument President Lungu is eligible for 2021.
President Lungu has since challenged those disputing he is eligible for 2021 to take the matter to court. The Head of State declared on his visit to Ndola yesterday he was eying re-election when elections are called in August 2021.
But Munshya has categorically stated that the Head of State is not eligible.
“President Lungu first ran for the presidency under Constitution 1996 in 2015 and that was a full term which terminated in 2016. That which was a presidential term under Constitution 1996 is still a term under Constitution 2016.
“Constitution 2016 cannot retroactively cancel that which was regarded as a presidential term under Constitution 1996. Constitution 2016 does not automatically make Mr. Rupiah Banda eligible to two more presidential terms, just as it does not make Mr. Edgar Lungu eligible to run again in 2021.
“If we followed the logic that Constitution 2016 retroactively makes Mr. Lungu eligible, we would have no law and certainly no constitution. It would mean that any president can then each year push through constitutional amendments that make them start afresh and remain in power indefinitely.
“President Lungu assumed his first presidential term under a constitution that stated clearly that he could only run one more time and not two more times. He knew what he was getting himself into. He should not be misled by amanone of the presidential Benz.
“In 2021, His Excellency must vacate the office and respect the Constitution 1996 under whose wings he first flew to Nkwazi House,” Munshya states.
Governance activist Isaac Mwanza has also added his voice to the debate saying President Lungu is constitutionally barred from contesting the 2021 election because it will translate into a third term.
Munshya supported President Lungu’s election in 2015 and 2016 while Isaac Mwanza has occasionally been viewed to align with the ruling party although most of his arguments are generally objective and backed by sound legal authority.