DISCOURSE ANALYSIS_ ELIGIBILITY OF PRESIDENT LUNGU TO CONTEST 2021 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS NOW ENTERS THE LOGICAL SEMANTICS VERSUS LEXICAL SEMANTICS PHASE
NAREP President Elias Chipimo Jnr. postulates that the President Edgar Lungu, having twice held office, as opposed to having twice served a term of office, cannot stand again for election as President. He argues that the constitutional restriction does not refer to a person ‘serving a term of office’ but a person ‘holding office’.
He argues further that “holding office” is defined as being sworn-in and serving until the next person is sworn-in as President; that in short, if the President resigned his office today, he would have “held office”, even though he would not have served a term of office and that is the critical distinction (https://www.lusakatimes.com/2017/01/14/elias-chipimo-jnr-details-president-lungu-not-eligible-2021-elections/).
After having read the whole article, I must accept that my brother has put up a very interesting thesis. It appears, we have now entered into a phase where we are concerned with matters such as sense, reference and presupposition and on one hand, and on the other hand, we are looking at the implication, and the analysis of words’ meanings, and relations between them. However, overall, this to me that is a healthy discourse that simply has entered a thought-provoking phase of logical semantics and lexical semantics.
My thesis is that Articles 105 and 106 appear to use a number of words, phrases or terms that are used interchangeably. The common phrases or terms that seem to be used interchangeably are: “assume office”; “perform executive functions”; “hold office”; and “serve”. Interpreting them literary may create a constitutional crisis, if one does not already exist.
To argue that “holding office” is different from “assuming office” or “performing executive functions” or “serving” because “holding office” is defined as being sworn-in and serving until the next person is sworn-in as President, if one resigns or dies during the first term of his office, then it means that person has not held office of the President.
For example, it would be grossly erroneous to argue that the Late President Michael Sata never held the Office of President simply because he did not serve until the next person is sworn-in as President. It could also be grossly erroneous to argue that the Late President Levy Mwanawasa only held the Office of the President for one term simply because he died, and therefore did not serve until the next person is sworn-in as President.
Either way, President Lungu still qualifies. If “holding office” is defined as “being sworn-in and serving until the next person is sworn-in as President”, then it means he is yet to hold office because no next person has yet been sworn-in as President. He remains the same person sworn-in in 2015 until 2021.
Going by the argument postulated by President Chipimo Jnr, President Lungu is eligible to contest in 2021 because he is yet to serve a term. Such an argument is extremely misleading can serve for “wamuyaya” term provided no next person is sworn-in.
I still hold the view that President Lungu is eligible for the last term in 2021 because:
- Although Article 106(3) prevents a person who has twice held the office of President from standing again for that office, there is an exemption under Article 106(6)(b) that would make President Lungu eligible to run again
- Article 106(6)(b) states that a person who was elected to the office of President shall only be deemed to have served a “term” if he served for three or more year
- President Lungu only served for 18 months and did not therefore complete a “term”Under Article 106(1) of the constitution, a term of office lasts 5 years.
- In any case, we as the Green Party would love to challenge President Lungu because he will be the most vulnerable Presidential candidate if he fails to deliver election promises by 2021.