FODEP’s views on Lungu’s warning to Constitutional Court judges

Edgar Lungu at the Reformed church of Zambia in Chipata
Edgar Lungu at the Reformed church of Zambia in Chipata

As the Foundation for Democratic Process – FODEP we are saddened and concerned at the Republican President Mr. Edger Chagwa Lungu’s public utterances of warning Constitutional Court judges not to disqualify him from standing again in 2021 general elections.

As FODEP, we are disappointed in the first place because such a statement was not to be expected to come from him being a lawyer who understands the sanctity and independence of the judiciary and of the judges .Secondly, the Zambian President is sworn to protect constitutionalism, rule of law, democracy and national unity therefore a statement such as his that suggests chaos is most unfortunate and has potential to cause fear in the members of the bench.

What would have been expected if a case of judicial misconduct is established against the judges the President knows too well  the channels to follow, even in the event that a case is not determined in his favour, he knows too the judicial procedures to follow. We therefore, wonder why the President chose to make a statement that may be prejudicial to the ongoing case.   As FODEP, we regret that the President’s statement has a potential to actually fuel mistrust and lack of confidence not only in the ConCourt judges but by extension on the case to be determined.

We regret that such a statement is coming at the backdrop of national dialogue to be held on pertinent governance issues which includes amongst other issues securing the independence of Judges and the judiciary from outside influences.

Commonwealth Latimer House Principles which binds Zambia as a member state and indeed our supreme law of the land, the republican Constitution, upholds the sanctity of not only the independence of the judiciary as the third arm of government, but also of the judges. Therefore, any attempts to compromise the independence of the judges and judiciary should not be accommodated in a democracy like ours that has embraced the rule of law. And the President should take a leading role in securing constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law.

Issued on behalf of FODEP