Lusaka-20th August 2021
Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa says President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is safe from any form of prosecution as he enjoys Constitutional Immunity.
He however said former Ministers and other officials have no such protection and maybe prosecuted for their suspected offences or wrongs.
Sangwa said a process to lift a former president’s immunity was strengthened and is now rigorous as stipulated in the 2016 Constitution.
Article 98 states that;
(5) Where there is prima facie evidence that a person who held the office of President or who performed executive functions
committed an offence whilst in office or during the period that
person performed executive functions, the President shall submit a report, outlining the grounds relating to the offence allegedly committed, to the National Assembly, requesting the National Assembly to remove the immunity from criminal proceedings of that person.
(6) Where the National Assembly receives a report, submitted
in accordance with clause (5), the National Assembly shall constitute a select committee to scrutinise the grounds submitted and determine whether or not there is a prima facie case, based on the grounds submitted, that warrants the removal of the immunity from criminal proceedings, and recommend its decision to the National Assembly.
(7) The person who held the office of President or who performed executive functions has the right to appear, be represented and be
heard before the select committee constituted under clause (6).
( Where the Select Committee, constituted under clause (6),
recommends the removal of immunity from criminal proceedings from the person who held the office of President or who performed executive functions, the National Assembly may remove the immunity in respect of the alleged offence, by a resolution supported by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the Members of Parliament.
(9) Where immunity is removed, in accordance with clause (, the person who held the office of President or who performed
executive functions, shall be charged with the offence for which the immunity from criminal proceedings was removed.
(10) Where a court acquits the person who held the office of
President or who performed executive functions, of an offence for which that person’s immunity from criminal proceedings was removed, the immunity of that person shall, for all purposes, be deemed not to have been removed, without further proceedings.
Sangwa was speaking when he appeared on Radio Phoenix “Let the People Talk”.
Sangwa also cautioned the President-Elect when he assumes office next week, to be slow to fire people in the civil service and Zambia’s diplomats.
He said any dismissal should be guided by whether those individuals performed well or not.
He said people should not be fired on the suspicions that they belonged to the Patriotic Front as this would.be a repeat where suspected members of UPND were dismmised or retired in national interest.
Sangwa also dismissed proposals of a reconciliation commission or extending Amnesty to suspected criminals who could have stolen or plundered national resources.
He urged President Hakainde Hichilema to strengthen law enforcement agencies to prosecute such cases.
He also said that he performs his public advocacy work not to earn a presidential appointment or job but to serve the Republic and protect the Constitution.