In an echo of the Obama “birther” rumours, Zambian President Rupiah Banda on Tuesday in a court of law confirmed his eligibility to run for president again, disproving claims from the main opposition party that his parents were in fact Malawian. By SIMON ALLISON.
Under Zambian law, a presidential candidate and both parents must be fully fledged Zambian citizens by birth. The Patriotic Front, the main opposition in September’s presidential elections, maintained that Banda’s father was born across the border in Malawi, thereby making another tilt at the presidency impossible. The court found this to be untrue and ruled Banda could stand again. Naturally, the opposition isn’t happy, alleging that the ruling party intimidated the judiciary through “reckless statements” prior to the decision.
Ironically, the particular clause of the constitution under scrutiny was introduced in 1996 by Banda’s party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy to prevent Kenneth Kaunda from running again. Now that short-term solution has come back to threaten the MMD’s own candidate.
According to Zambia’s The Post newspaper, the ruling party has a history of enacting short-term laws which have come back to haunt them. A man alleged to have had an affair with then-president Frederick Chiluba’s wife was thrown in jail on charges of car theft. To keep him there, and far away from his wife, Chiluba quickly made the offence unbailable. Some of those who participated in the making of this law were then caught by it when president Levy Mwanawasa charged them with theft of government vehicles.
September’s election is pretty much a shootout between the incumbent Banda and the PF’s Michael Sata, himself a former MMD man. Banda took over the reins of the country following the unexpected death in office of Mwanawasa, and has largely kept the country going in the right direction. His record in office, coupled with the advantages of campaigning as a ruling party, will likely see him given another term by the Zambian people. DM
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Photo: Zambian President Rupiah Banda (R) and ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) National Secratary Richard Kachingwe (L) wave to supporters in the capital Lusaka as Banda launches his 2011 election campaign, August 1, 2011. Banda dissolved parliament last week and set September 20 as the date for new elections in Africa’s biggest copper producer. REUTERS/Mackson Wasamunu
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