Zambia in constitutional lacuna -FODEP

The Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) says Zambians should intensify their demand for a people driven constitution to seal up such constitutional gaps that favors one section of society against the other.

FODEP executive director McDonald Chipenzi observed that there is a constitutional lacuna in the sense that an aggrieved citizen could not institute legal suit against a sitting President but a sitting President could institute legal action against a citizen when aggrieved.

Mr Chipenzi also said his organisation was closely following the defamation case between President Michael Sata and the Daily Nation proprietor Mr. Richard Sakala with keenest interest.

“This is so because the case is unique and unprecedented and exposes the weaknesses in Zambia’s legal framework.

“The fact that the current legal framework under Article 43 (1) and (2) of the current Constitution protects a sitting President from legal proceedings but is mute on what happens if the sitting President wants to take legal action against a citizen exposes its greatest weakness in a democratic society like ours,” he said.

Mr Chipenzi noted that the current law promoted the administration of selective justice where some people were above the law while others were under the law which was undemocratic and against the principles of the rule of law.

“This case alone highlights a constitutional lacuna in the sense that an aggrieved citizen cannot institute legal suit against a sitting President but a sitting President can institute legal action against a citizen when aggrieved.

“ This is the reason Zambians should intensify their demand for a new people driven constitution to seal up such constitutional gaps that favors one section of society against the other.

“We hope that the judge handling the matter will not be intimidated to dispense justice on such a classic case but be overboard especially that the person involved in the case is the appointing authority,” Mr Chipenzi said.

The FODEP chief further prayed that the case would not send intimidatory signals to upcoming media institutions from carrying out their functions as mirrors of society and that the case would not stifle press freedom and freedom of expression in Zambia due to fears of facing the powerful in society.

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