LAZ explains the Law on presidential parentage

George Chisanga
George Chisanga

THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says that only persons whose parents automatically qualified to be Zambian citizens at independence in 1964, qualify to stand as candidates to the office of President.
Meanwhile, LAZ is contemplating joining the legal proceedings in which a Lusaka politician Newton Ngu’ni has challenged the eligibility of Guy Scott to act as Republican President.
LAZ president George Chisanga said in a statement that the courts of law had to determine if there was a dispute on whether a presidential candidate’s parents qualified to be Zambians on Independence Day but should be assessed on a case-by-case basis according to facts.
Mr Chisanga said the Supreme Court of Zambia had given guidance on the issue in the 1996 case of Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika and others versus Frederick Chiluba.
The petitioners challenged Dr Chiluba’s eligibility to contest the Republican presidency on grounds that his father was not Zambian as provided for in Article 34 of the Constitution.
In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that under Section 3 of the 1964 (Independence) Constitution, the following automatically qualified to become Zambian citizens at Independence:
“Every person born in the Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia and who was a British protected person. Every person who was born outside of the former Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia who was a British protected person as at 23rd October 1964 and whose father became or would have become a Zambian citizen had they not died before Independence Day 1964,” Mr Chisanga said.
The Supreme Court further guided that there was a further class of people who did not automatically become Zambians on Independence Day but were eligible to become Zambian citizens only upon registration.
On what constituted Zambian parents by birth or descent at the time of independence, the Supreme Court ruled that Zambian citizenship only commenced on October 24, 1964.
Mr Chisanga explained that according to the Constitution, parents of anyone born prior to independence who were Zambian by birth or descent could meaningfully only be construed as a reference to those who automatically became Zambians on October 24, 1964 or who would automatically have become Zambians had they not died before independence.
LAZ was hopeful that the returning officer would be able to accept nominations from persons who met the criteria as provided by the law.
On joining the case between Mr Ng’uni and Dr Scott, Mr Chisanga said the association was contemplating joining the proceedings as amicus curiae (friend of the court).
LAZ has also joined calls by the civil society and other stakeholders for the candidates of the 2015 presidential election to make the need for the enactment of a people-driven Constitution an election issue.


Times of Zambia