When we say that President Edgar Lungu is not eligible to contest the 2021 presidential elections it is not out of hatred or fear of losing to him.
Even if Mr Lungu was a very weak candidate who could be easily defeated our position does not change – the principle and requirements of the rule of law do not change. We may have chameleon-like politicians but our country’s Constitution does not change in that psychedelic way.
We are saying this simply out of principle, out of respect for the rule of law.
And this does not require very complicated legal arguments. It is a very simple and straightforward matter.
And put simply: Mr Lungu has been elected to the office of President of the Republic of Zambia twice. And he has been sworn in as President twice – serving two terms as president.
The issue of his first term being less than three years does not arise or apply here. It arises when or applies to a person who assumes the office of President as Vice-President, without being elected, when the President dies, resigns or is removed from office for any reason.
Mr Lungu did not assume office as Vice-President and without elections in 2015. He contested presidential elections twice and won.
You can call us all sorts of names, threaten us in all sorts of ways and accuse us of all sorts things but that will not change this reality.
It does not matter what legal gymnastics they will try to play they will not succeed in changing this reality. They can ignore it, but that will not change this reality. They tried to change this reality with Bill 10 but they failed.
We know very well that we are dealing with people who have very little, or no respect, for the rule of law. These are people who are used to getting whatever they want, regardless of what the law says. They don’t seem to realise that the exercise of power must be a constant practice of self limitation and modesty.
But that should not stop us from pointing out the truth or correct positions.
History has taught us that once a government is committed to manipulating the law, the Constitution to get whatever it wants, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of tyranny to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear and silence.
We should not accept to be silenced over this illegality of Mr Lungu’s third term bid.
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali