- A proposed constitutional reform is underway which would drastically increase President Lungu's powers ahead of elections in 2021.
- Last year, Lungu successfully ‘arm twisted’ the constitutional court to allow him to run again in 2021 failure to which he said would "plunge the country into chaos."
- The bill should it be approved by parliament where the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) holds a majority would "make it effectively impossible to remove President Edgar Lungu from office.
Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu is on his way to fill the shoes of the late Robert Mugabe and become a life president if he gets his way.
A proposed constitutional reform is underway which would drastically increase President Lungu's powers ahead of elections in 2021. Known as bill number 10, the bill is set to be discussed soon by parliament, where the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) holds a majority and hence could easily pave way for Lungu’s to become another ‘big’ African presidents.
If approved, the changes will allow the head of state to nominate judges and ministers, change the electoral layout and take control of central bank monetary policy.
"The bill is the grave digger of Zambia's democracy and the country's worst constitutional amendment since the achievement of independence in 1964," said professor Sishuwa Sishuwa from the University of Zambia, News24 reported.
The bill would "make it effectively impossible to remove President Edgar Lungu from office," he added.
How it all began
President Lungu came to power in 2014 following the death of president Michel Sata who died unexpectedly while in office. Lungu then won the presidency in his own right in 2016 in polls marked by clashes between PF supporters and those of the rival United Party for National Development (UPND).
Since then it seems like President Lungu has developed an insatiable appetite for power. Last year, Lungu successfully ‘arm twisted’ the constitutional court to allow him to run again in 2021 failure to which he said would "plunge the country into chaos."
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
The president has since taken an increasingly authoritarian stance against his rivals, critics say.
Hakainde Hichilema, an election runner-up who refused to accept the results, was for instance jailed for four months in 2017 for allegedly refusing to give way to a motorcade transporting Lungu.
Hichilema was held on treason charges, an offence that carries the death penalty. He claims his arrest was "political".
Last hurdle against President Lungu
The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is now determined to stop President Lungu dead in his tracks.
LAZ has sued Lungu, his attorney general Likando Kalaluka and the entire national assembly for attempting to tamper with the constitution.
"This proposed bill is a project to put more power on the executive and disadvantage parliament," said US-based LAZ member Muna Ndulo.
The government is, however, unfazed by their efforts and says LAZ is wasting its time.
"We know that there are some lawyers whose job is to seek popularity," spokeswoman Dora Siliya told AFP, adding that "the process is going ahead".
President Lungu also shows no sign of backing down.
"We braved the storm to deliver the constitution and we mean every word we say," he told parliament earlier this month.
"Support the current process. If you don't want to refine it, we will."