Edgar Lungu is a lame duck President who doesn’t have the right mandate to be overseeing a huge undertaking such as constitutional making, says Lusaka lawyer John Sangwa.
Featuring on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme this morning, Sangwa said President Lungu and those in government have failed to tell the nation how the country would benefit and move forward with their proposed amendments to the Constitution, through the infamous Bill 10.
“What we hear are lies from the Vice-President, the President, ministers about this bill,” Sangwa said, adding that they kept on arguing that the amendment would help address chiefs wrangles among other things, when there was already a Chiefs Act and courts were already adjudicating on matters of chieftaincy.
Sangwa said the country was better off with the current Constitution rather than the one President Lungu was advancing, arguing against the push for instance to amend Article 52, which gave the people the right to challenge the eligibility of candidates. Legal experts have argued that President Lungu wants to remove the clause because of lingering arguments that he is not eligible to contest the 2021 general elections having been sworn-in twice as president.
“There is nothing good about this bill…we are dealing with a lame duck President, a lame duck Parliament. They don’t have the right mandate to embark on such a tasking undertaking,” Sangwa said during a radio programme monitored by Daily Revelation, asking why a president who only had 13 months left in office should be handling such a demanding exercise.
Sangwa said rather than the manner President Lungu and those in government were handling it, a constitution is supposed to be a neutral document to govern the whole nation, saying several challenges noted in its operations were on account of failing to appoint right people in various offices to implement it.
He said the government came up with bill 10, it went under some watering down through the parliamentary select committee, upon which the government illegally gazetted some of the provisions of the bill and recommendations from the select committee, without telling the people how they should relate to the two documents.
Sangwa said they added more confusion to a document, which in the real sense should be simplified if it were being done for the benefit of the people.
“What’s the motive of complicating it?” he asked.
Sangwa said the proposed changes done through the select committee and in the gazetted bill were not binding, instead urging the people to focus on the bill before the house, which contained harmful clauses to suit the interests of the President, including the reintroduction of deputy ministers; the President to be granted the right to subdivide any part of the country without ratification from parliament; transfer the role of printing money to the government from the Central Bank; allow government to contract loans without parliamentary approval; mayors to be elected by their fellow councillors as opposed to the people and cabinet cabinet ministers to remain in office during campaign periods, so that they could have unfettered access to public resources.
“The other provisions include plans by President Lungu to circumvent the Constitutional provision for a majoritarian President of 50+1 percent, in order to create some fictional coalition, where for instance if President Lungu gets 45 percent in the elections and Peter Chanda 5.1 percent, the two can agree and form government…” He said.
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