VERNON Mwaanga is not qualified to comment on legal matters and his attacks on the Constitutional Court’s decision to discontinue hearing the UPND petition are misplaced, misconceived and incompetent at law, Patriotic Front (PF) deputy elections chairperson Kelvin Fube Bwalya has said.
And Mr. Bwalya has charged that the decision by the Constitutional Court to adjourn the matter over the petitions from Friday to Monday when the Constitution was clear that the case should be determined within 14 days had raised a lot of suspicion.
Commenting on Dr. Mwaanga’s assertions that the ConCourt’s failure to hear and determine the UPND’s election petition amounted to a constitutional coup and set a serious and dangerous precedent for the future, Mr. Bwalya said the fact that Dr. Mwaanga was a veteran politician did not mean he understood the law.
He said the Constitution provided for a procedural framework to be adopted for the commencement of the case and that 14 days were stipulated for a petition to be heard and determined and that the UPND waived its right to be heard when it failed to have its case heard within the time limit set by the law.
Mr. Fube reminded Dr. Mwaanga that the ‘‘up to three years’’ time limit in which petitions could be heard as stipulated by the old Constitution were done away with the same day President Edgar Lungu signed the new Constitution, hence his argument was not valid.
He said while it was true that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and his running mate Geoffrey Mwamba had the right to be heard, President Lungu and his running mate Inonge Wina also had the right to have their case heard and determined within 14 days, adding that no single individual’s rights superseded the others’.
“Dr. Mwaanga must acknowledge that he is not competent to interpret or comment on the Constitution because he is not qualified to do so. He should realise that no matter how old or politically experienced one can be, they cannot automatically be qualified to talk about legal matters and Dr. Mwaanga’s comments are biased and deliberately intended to mislead the general public with a view to ridicule the court.
‘‘He is not capable of understanding the intricacy of what being denied justice means. Mr. Hichilema and Mr. Mwamba have rights anchored in the Constitution and they should have exercised their right to be heard within the 14 days just like President Lungu and Ms. Wina had the right to have their case determined within 14 days and so, if you decide to sit on your rights, then it means you have waived your rights because your rights cannot supersede others,” Mr. Bwalya said.
He also said he was surprised that constitutional judges had adjourned the matter on Friday when it was supposed to put its foot down by ruling according to what the Constitution demanded.
“Adjourning the matter from Friday to Monday was the worst mistake. The court should not have adjourned the matter after midnight but should have concluded it before that time, according to the Constitution.
‘‘The adjournment has caused a lot of suspicion because other people now think something wrong was done by the court. It should have put its foot down and concluded the matter by midnight,” he said.