THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is divided over President Edgar Lungu’s “five-year tenure of office because the Constitution does not provide for a presidential by-election.
And instead of filing a fully articulated argument against the assertion by petitioners the association has applied for the dismissal of the application but petitioners have accused LAZ of failing to provide a proper defence even after they were given two months to file a reasoned rebuttal to the assertion.
In their affidavit in opposition to dismissal, the petitioners have accused LAZ of misrepresenting their argument by suggesting that their action was representative, on behalf of President Lungu.
They have since challenged LAZ to point to any provision of the Constitution that prescribes a by-election in the event of the death of a sitting President.
“This petition is not a representative action on behalf of President Edgar Lungu but us, the four known petitioners namely Richard Mumba, Simemezya Siachoke, Wright Musoma and Kaluba Musenda Simuyembe,” they said.
The petitioners stated that: “We voted for President Lungu for a constitutional tenure of five years and not for the completion president Michael Sata tenure as suggested by the first respondent.”
Being made to vote for the President in the 2016 general elections, they said was likely to abuse them by voting twice when the tenure of President Lungu was still subsisting.
They charged that it was unconstitutional as suggested by Attorney General Likando Kalaluka that President Lungu was only serving the remaining tenure of late president Sata as this was not provided for the constitution.
“There is no constitutional provision which states that when one is elected President of Zambia following the death of the incumbent, he or she has to serve the remainder of the tenure of the predecessor.” they said.
“But because of the confusion, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Constitution relating to the current President and even future presidents, it is important that this matter is adjudicated on by the courts and not to dismiss the matter as suggested by the third respondent (LAZ) which will deny the petitioners and other citizens the correct legal position of the Constitution as interpreted by the courts of law,” they argued.
They charged that LAZ president George Chisanga and a few others intended to delay the petition through the preliminary issue as they intended to appeal to the Supreme Court if it did not go in their favour so that the petitioners should be heard after the general elections have taken place, rendering the petition academic.
The petitioners have appealed to the High Court to dismiss the submissions by the Attorney General who they said was not a party to the petition.
In its application to join the matter, the Law Association of Zambia had indicated its interest because: “A perusal of the court records following the search, revealed that the petitioners raised important fundamental constitutional question relating to the election to the office of the President of the republic, the tenure in office to President Lungu and the conduct of the 2016 general elections,”
“In the light of the important constitutional questions of law raised in the petition and in light of the numerous requests for clarification from the media, civil society and the general public, LAZ recently convened a special council meeting at which they deliberated at the substance of the petition and it was resolved at the meeting that the association should make an application to the court to join the matter as an intervener with the view of discharging its statutory mandate and objectives as provided in chapter 31 of the laws of Zambia.
The court however asked the association to join the action and become the third respondent but in its submission to the court yesterday, LAZ provided a two paragraph argument stating that the application was untenable at law as it was representative of President Lungu and therefore should be dismissed.
The petitioners have however stated that the matter should be dealt with in order to bring clarity and remove ambiguity regarding the tenure of office of the President.