UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says if the Patriotic Front succeeds to block the impeachment process on claims that two of the grounds are before court, the opposition party will start another process until the motion is table on the floor of the National Assembly.
The PF has obtained an injunction from the High Court, through an application for leave to commence judicial reveal against Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini, on grounds that his decision to accept the private member’s motion was unreasonable, procedurally improper and illegal.
High Court judge Bobo Banda granted the applicants leave to apply for judicial reveal, an order which now act as a stay to prevent the Speaker from tabling the motion in the House, as requested by UPND’s Gary Nkombo and Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili.
Commenting on the move, Hichilema wondered what had happened to the numbers of MPs which the PF was bragging about after the motion was submitted.
“When we were filing that motion, the PF were laughing at us. They were saying the motion will never see it’s day in Parliament, they were saying the motion is frivolous, they were saying we did not have numbers. And we answered all those challenges by filing the motion. The Speaker, through the deputy Speaker accepted that the motions was constitutionally right and that it was procedurally submitted, and that it was the Speaker’s office that failed to get it tabled according to the parliamentary standing orders,” HH said.
“So already we have scored in the sense that nobody believed that we would be able to prepare that motion, put it in the hands of Parliament and that it would be legally and procedurally correct. Today, they have changed the story, they have stopped talking about numbers, they have stopped talking about frivolous motion, they are now rushing to court to stop it. This is definitely an abuse of the court process. but they can only buy time; they can run but they cannot hide. The impeachment can be processed on one transgression of the Constitution. If they delay these two, we have others anyway, so immediately this matter is out of court, we will start another impeachment process. So they can run but they cannot hide.”
He said the grounds of impeachment were valid because it was a fact that President Lungu had abrogated the Constitution.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that they know that the motion is valid. Lungu refused to handover to the Speaker when we petitioned his election, in line with Article 104. He failed to hand over executive powers. The Constitution says he should have done that but he did not. So there is nothing to take to court to stop that motion because the facts are already on the table. They can only delay the matter by staying in court, but they cannot stop it. For example, the issue of ministers staying in office after the dissolution of Parliament, is that a contestable matter? Absolutely not! It is a fact, they were in Cabinet, they were getting salaries, they were traveling and the Constitutional Court ruled that they should pay back,” HH said.
“The first ruling by the way was on the 6th of August 2016, a week before the general elections. If Lungu had erred in the first instance by keeping the ministers in office, he would have corrected that error after the first ruling came out. Did he correct that? He didn’t. He actually ridiculed us. They appealed the case, which is again unprocedural according to the criminal procedure court because the Constitutional Court is a court of finality. Then another ruling came, which they have again appealed, only after our impeachment motion was presented to Parliament. They they argue that this ground cannot stand among the grounds for impeachment because it is a matter that is before the court. Do you have to be a rocket scientist to know that this appeal is a frivolous process? Clearly that’s an abuse of the court process.”
And HH said if the Constitutional Court will tolerate Davies Mwila’s appeal against the ruling on ministers who illegally stayed in office, then the UPND would demand to reopen the presidential election petition.
“Now, what this does is that it opens another issue. If the courts are acting fairly then it means as well that we must reopen our [presidential election] petition. You know, if you are committing a mistake, you cannot correct it as easily as they are trying to do because you are opening new front. Now they are opening a new front, if the court entertains Davies Mwila’s application, they must as well accept the petition to be started. And by the way, that case of ministers is on someone who called himself President then, that’s the person who transgressed the Constitution. So the State cannot waste public resources by engaging the Attorney General. He cannot act for individuals, when people are rotting in prison because they have no legal representation, the Attorney General is there wasting public resources representing individuals,” observed HH.
“We are also asking Zambians to open their eyes. We are fighting for them, we are trying to engage in a process that will assist us correct the rule of law. You can’t have a country where there is no rule of law. People will be killing each other, as it is happening already.”