2 April 2018

Zambia: Pres. Lungu's Impeachment - What Is Wrong With the Motion?

Photo: Patriotic Front/Facebook
President Edgar Lungu (file photo).
opinion

I have keenly followed the augments regarding the impeachment motion with interest. As usual many commentators have given divergent views over the same. Most arguments are coming from numbers in parliament whether the UPND is able to get the numbers required to succeed with such an ambitious motion. to discuss the current impeachment I first want us to look at history briefly.

In 2003 Zambian lawmakers were to begin debate on a controversial motion to impeach President Levy Mwanawasa for violating the Constitution by appointing a vice president they said was unqualified.

Fifty-three (53) lawmakers signed a petition calling for Mwanawasa's impeachment, citing a constitutional stipulation that a person must have served as a member of Parliament before being appointed vice president.

The Constitution also bared a person from holding the second highest office in the land if they lost in a general election.

Mwanawasa appointed opposition leader Mr. Nevers Mumba vice president in May 2003 replacing Enoch Kavindele, even though Mr. Mumba had never been a lawmaker and lost in the December 2001 presidential vote won by Mwanawasa.

The impeachment motion was being moved by UPND lawmaker Hon. Sakwiba Sikota.

Before the impeachment motion came to parliament, the opposition FDD had already mounted a court challenge, to be heard in October, arguing that the appointment was unconstitutional.

On another interesting note, an opposition legislator Dipak Patel - a Mwanawasa supporter recently appointed as trade and industry minister - said the motion was an act of "vindictiveness by the opposition."

The motion was put to a vote on the government's request and parliament members voted 92-57 against it.

Sakwiba Sikota, a senior member of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) that sponsored the motion, argued that the president was guilty of misconduct and it was the task of the parliamentarians to do the right thing and impeach Mwanawasa and get Zambia back on track. The motion did not succeed to go far.

This was happening when the country's ballooning budget deficit had prompted international lenders who supported 40 percent of Zambia's annual budget to withhold aid and the government had said it expected no foreign debt relief that year.

President Mwanawasa was very calm about the development and encouraged his lawmakers to debate intelligently in parliament emphasising that there was a bigger challenge which required his attention.

I bring in this history because without history we may not know how to deal with matters and where we are going.

It should not be surprising today that the UPND has moved a motion again to impeach a different president this time around. It is in the DNA of UPND to make sure they use every provision in the constitution. They are good at this and this is the reason why UPND is the only party in Zambia that has pushed motions of impeachment in recent history.

So is the 'IMPEACHMENT MOTION' going anywhere? The answer is NO and those pushing for it know too well that what they are fighting for is a game of football in water.

But this is not to say the UPND MP's are wrong in moving the motion, they have every right under the constitution to do so. The UPND is doing this to also maintain their relevance in the political space of Zambia. it is such as important thing for them to do.

However, this is where the UPND lose it sometimes, if the same energy they are putting on pushing this motion could be channelled to strengthening their party structures and also come up with a mechanism that can put them in power come 2021 they can archive more than what they will gain from this impeachment motion.

Because the impeachment is going nowhere, I think president Lungu and the entire PF should concentrate on working on improving the lives of the Zambian people and pay less attention to the motion.

Let me also mention that because the UPND is simply exercising it's rights as a party, the motion should in no way affect the talks regarding reconciliation.

As I conclude, I would urge the UPND to concentrate on preparing for 2021 and forget about this impeachment and also the case of presidential petition. There shall be no shortcut to removing president Lungu from power. Let us all just accept that we are stuck with him until 2021. Anyone thinking we shall have another president before 2021 is day dreaming. By the way why do they want to remove a president who does not exist? Isn't that hypocritical in nature?

May God Bless Zambia.

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