The long-awaited judgement on the heavilly disputed August 2016 Presidential election which has been petitioned in the Constitutional Court by the UPND will leave an indellible mark on the illustrious legal leacy of Chief Justice Irene Mambilima depending on which way she chooses to proceed to ‘Swear-in or not- swear in’ Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu.
Mrs. Mambilima is faced with what seems to be pressure from the PF to proceed with the inauguration of Mr. Lungu inspite not having satisfied the constutional requirement of hearing the UPND petition which was to argue and provide what is thought to be overwhelming evidence that Mr. Lungu lost the election to UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema, influenced largely by the pro-UPND voting pattern in the Lusaka constituencies of Kanyama, Chawama, Mandevu, Munali, Matero and Bauleni.
It is alleged that information leaked and was presented to Mr. Lungu sometime during Saturday 13th August, two days after election day and he thereafter made a decision to concede defeat and announce to the nation on Sunday 1th August, 2016.
But alas, when Mr. Lungu was about to concede, it is alleged that he was intercepted by a former president, a Zambian Ambassador to a country in the region and a chief cadre at State House and others, persuaded Mr. Lungu not to concede and asked for time to ‘work’ on the rusults. This explains the silence and delay from the ECZ to announce the Lusaka results which were coming from polling stations in close proximity to the ECZ totalling centre. ECZ Director-General Esau Chulu was at pains to explain the cause of the delay. The 2016 elections were held in the dry season and therefore the issue of logistical challenges related to weather which had been used as an excuse for delayed results in previous elections could now not hold. This raised tensions throughout the country and pressure was mounted on ECZ to begin announcing results. Surprisingly, they started announcing results of far-flung areas leaving Lusaka results which they only managed to announce at the of the end of the process.
It is believed that PF were in shock that even their pre-election rigging strategies failed to pull a positive result due to the overwhelming UPND showing that the only way was to start physically changing the results at the totalling centre by engaging a foreigner to access the computer server and manipulate the results at ECZ.
When even that failed to find enough votes to achieve a majority for the PF candidate, the last ditch attempt was to start unreasonably inflating results even in areas where the results for PF were higher than the number of registered voters.
The last ditch attempt was to stop the hearing of the petition at all costs, which is where the country finds itself right now, a path which has shocked local, regional and international bodies and legal commentators.
Our last appeal to Mr. Lungu is not to proceed with the inauguration on the basis of a stolen election as this shadow will never go away and may cause governance challenges which may never be overcome in the long run. Let him take a few steps backwards, back to his original position where he had decided to concede defeat peacefully and ignore those voices which came to push him not to concede so that he lives with a clear conscience.
The whole nation knows the former president in question is power hungry and wants to recover from his own failure to have results ‘doctored’ when it became clear that he had lost the 2011 election and now wishes to stay ‘in power’ through the back door perpetually. We appeal to Mr. Lungu to think of his new ‘Christian’ image. How will he proceed from here?
What about Justice Mambilima’s shining international legal legacy? Will all this be sacrificed? We say to Mr. Lungu, its not too late. Defend Zambia’s newly amended constitution, if not, which way Zambia?