MMD President Dr. Nevers Mumba says now that the Presidential Petition has been successfully filed in, the law which President Lungu has been violating with impunity has finally caught up with him as he now has no choice but to step aside. The Presidential Petition against his election was filed in at the Constitutional Court late this afternoon, Friday 19 August, 2016.
This is in line with the constitution provision, section 105(2)(a) “…the President-elect shall be sworn into office on the Tuesday following- the seventh day after the date of the declaration of the presidential election results, IF NO PETITION HAS BEEN FILED in accordance with article 103.” In this case, the President- elect would have been sworn in on Tuesday 23rd August if there was no petition in place.
During the PF thanksgiving rally on Tuesday 16th August 2016, President Lungu casually said, (quote) ” some people have decided to petition the election, so we will have to wait a little longer. The inauguration will therefore be delayed until they have their day in court.” (End of quote)
The correct status therefore is that now that the petition has been filed, it immediately triggers article 104(3) which states that “…where an election petition is filed against the incumbent, under article 103(1), or an election is nullified, under article 103(3), the Speaker shall assume Executive Powers until the bona-fide president-elect assumes office….”
In regards to the concerns being raised by many Zambians as to why Cabinet office has proceeded to prepare for the inauguration on Tuesday, it is worth noting, that the government system cannot be suspended without a legal instrument, in this case the petition. As the Opposition Alliance, we now announce that the petition to challenge the results of the last election is now before the Constitutional Court and it is expected that the law will now be followed strictly. The Speaker shall assume Executive Powers as interim president until the petition is disposed of.
In the meantime, there are some overzealous PF members that wish to mislead the nation by suggesting that the president-elect can only be petitioned on the second ballot. This is a misguided position meant to confuse Zambians, which does not align itself with the spirit of the new constitution. Those who were part of the last Constitutional Commission understand that one of the heavily debated reasons for amending the constitution was to create a level justice platform for both the petitioner and the petitioned instead of the previous system where the petitioned president was sworn-in within days of the election and no time-frame stipulated within which the petition was to be heard and decided upon. Some petitions lasted over 3 years thereby rendering them meaningless.
By having the speaker act as president, this now allows the justice system to operate without undue influence or advantage from the one occupying State House. We strongly urge the PF leadership to carefully study the Amended Constitution to avoid being embarrassed as they have been in the recent past.
Dr. Mumba, who was speaking on behalf of the Opposition Alliance, has commended the hardworking legal team that has been working tirelessly on this petition in the last few days, for a job well done. He also commended Zambians for demanding that they now wished to be governed by the rule of law under a progressive constitution.