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The Third Term Bid by President Chiluba

 

The Third Term Bid by President Chiluba
 
Press Release
 
25 January 2001
 
 

This statement may be short but it had an enormous positive impact on the country. This clear, unambiguous and courageous statement was the first serious challenge to the intention by the ruling party to change the republican constitution so that President Chiluba could have a third term in office. The Church called the third term bid unconstitutional and undemocratic. The major bone of contention was that the law must never be manipulated for the advantage of individuals. Doing that can lead to the ruining of the rule of law. Hence the call on President Chiluba to make it explicitly clear that he was committed to protect the constitutional provision of limiting the presidency to two terms.

This strong stance from the Church gave birth to a civil society based national mobilisation against the third term. The Church was joined by the Law Association of Zambia and the Non-Governmental Coordinating Committee to form the OASIS Forum. The Forum mounted a nationwide campaign that led to President Chiluba’s decision to decline going for the suggested third term. This was a major victory to preserve Zambia’s fledgling democracy.

    Following a meeting of Church Leaders from Christian Council of Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) held on 23rd January, 2001, we would like to state the Church’s position on the ongoing debate of President Chiluba’s third term bid.
  1. The Church leadership is totally opposed to calls for the incumbent President to go for a third term, a move that is not only unconstitutional but also undemocratic.
  2. The high standard of constitutional democracy set in the 1991 elections must be preserved in the 2001 elections. At that time, the peaceful, free and fair transition to multiparty democracy served as a shining example for all of Africa. The opportunity for Zambia to provide another such example must not be lost during this current election year.
  3. For this reason the Church leadership in Zambia calls upon president Chiluba to again make explicitly clear his commitment to protect the constitutional provision limiting the presidency to two terms. He must exercise his responsibility to guide and educate the nation on such an important issue. We strongly commend him for his previous statement that he will not see a constitutional change. But we express our profound concern that of late this initial stand is being eroded by his current open encouragement of the debate.
  4. The debate can cause dangerous confusion that risks undermining the democratic electoral process during this year. We also fear that this debate may be a deliberate ploy to divert national attention from real serious issues. We strongly condemn those Ministers and District Administrators who have shed off their responsibility as national leaders choosing to spearhead this self content campaign.
  5. Constitutional provisions must never be manipulated for the advantage of individuals or else the rule of law suffers. At this very moment when several of our neighbouring African states are in the midst of terrible conflicts, Zambia must be a bright beacon of hope in the region by upholding the clear intent of constitutional provisions adopted in 1991 and repeated in 1996.
  6. After all, respect for and adherence to the constitution is part and parcel of good governance. We call upon President Chiluba to exercise statesmanship by unambiguously pledging to follow the current constitution of the Republic of Zambia, and thereby lead the people into a democratic electoral process that guarantees peaceful, free and fair elections for a new President in 2001.

  Rev. Violet Sampa-Bredt,   General Secretary – CCZ   Fr. Ignatius Mwebe,   Secretary General – ZEC)   Rev. Thomas Lumba,   Executive Director – EFZ)

May God Almighty abundantly bless each and everyone of you.

  Archbishop M. Mazombwe,   President – ZEC   Fr. I. P. Mwebe,   Secretary General – ZEC

For and on behalf of the Zambia Episcopal Conference