Featuring on Radio Phoenix Let the People Talk program Chipimo, a lawyer by profession said that the amended constitution only referred to a Vice President taking over midway through a term and never a President who had been directed elected by the people more than once being eligible.
President Lungu has opened a debate over his pronouncement that he qualifies to contest the 2021 general elections.
Chipimo said that President had fixed his eyes on contesting the 2021 elections and had now started fishing for justifications.
The NAREP leader cited article 106 of the amended constitution as providing guidance on the matter.
Chipimo said the article President Lungu was relying on for the three years did not apply to him but only when a Vice President assumes office midway through someone else’s term.
The amended constitution allows the Vice President who is a running mate to automatically takeover if the President dies or under any other provisions of the law fails to continue.
“People are just looking at the three years and are not looking at who it applies to. At the very beginning of Article 106 (6) it says if the Vice President assumes the office of President in accordance with 5 (a) or 5 (b) and that is when this issue around three years or less actually comes into force and effect,” he said.
He said some components of the new constitution were just a restatement of the old constitution like a President twice elected not being eligible for a third opportunity.
“If for example you take Article 213, part of it says there shall be established the Bank of Zambia which shall be called the Central Bank of the Republic. That was in the old constitution, it is also in the amended constitution. You have to ask yourself is this creating a new institution or is it simply restating the presence of an existing institution?” he said in building his case.
“If I am just restating, no one is going to say when parliament opens, that we now need to confirm the Bank of Zambia Governor again or that there is a new governor or central bank. Those rights and responsibilities simply continue.”
“In the old constitution we had something that somebody who had been twice elected as President shall not be eligible for re-election. In the amended constitution under Article 103 sub article (3) it says a person who has twice held office as President is not eligible for election as President meaning that is a restatement just as you would not re-appoint the Central Bank governor or re-establish or reconstitute the Central Bank you will not say that this starts afresh.”
He said having been directly elected by the people President Lungu could not claim another term after his current tenure expires in 2021.
“It is in relation to a Vice President who is elected in various ways, one is when he assumes office when the President is incapacitated or whatever happens. Number two is where the Vice President assumes office in another procedure where the Speaker performs the executive functions or the National Assembly is dissolved and the Presidential election is held and a new person comes in. So it is respect of that circumstance where the three year provision applies,” he said.
“I think when you look at this in totality you have to conclude that there is continuity and a restatement just as you wouldn’t re-appoint any of the officials who hold constitutional offices. You also would not say that this provision continues to run afresh the time that the amendment comes in place but just a clarification. The three years does not relate to a person who is directly related but relates to a Vice President who then assumes office.”
He added: “The bigger picture here is that anybody who wants to leave a solid legacy of success has to go in the office of Presidency believing that is going to be their last term and work as if it is their last term.”
Chipimo said, “The three year argument does not help anyone argue their case that somehow a person who has twice been elected to the office of president can be elected again.”
“They just need to read sub article (6) it actually states if the Vice President assumes the office of President in accordance with 5 (a) which talks about incapacitation or a person is elected to the office of president as a result of an election held in accordance with 5 (b) which is if the Vice President is unfit you go through another procedure,” he said.
“It then says the Vice President taking into account 5 (a) or 5 (b) shall serve the unexpired term of office and be deemed for purposes of clause (3) meaning for purposes of whether you are eligible to run a third term.”
He said President Lungu had been blinded by being focused on contesting the 2021 elections at all costs.
“It is always safe to think through what the implications of the constitution say and then draw your conclusion based on the interpretation not based on the outcome that you want to hear,” he said.
“We can all want to appear showering praise and tell people what they want to hear but I am not in that business which is why I am challenging Zambians to stop relying on politicians for your future.”
He said that the matter can be concluded by the Constitutional Court stressing that there was no doubt in his mind that President Lungu would not be eligible to stand in 2021.