Levy was clever – he fixed the elections date
 by Mazuba Mwiinga

Levy was such a clever President and sharp lawyer. Don’t you think so? Intelligently he told Magande to fix the period when the National Budget should be presented in Parliament. And the set up believe me you; dictate that general elections must always be held before October of an election year.

Wonder shouldn’t be at your neck. According to the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 20 of 2009, Article 117 (1) states that, “The Minister responsible for finance shall, subject to clause (2), cause to be prepared and laid before the National Assembly, not later than the second Friday of October, before the commencement of the next financial year, estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government for the financial year”;

It simply means that by the second week of October, Government must present its budget for the following year in Parliament every year.

Clause (2) of the same Article gives time for this process in case a new government in comes during an election year. It states, “In any year where a general election takes place and the estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government for the next financial year cannot be prepared and laid before the National Assembly as specified under clause (1), the Minister responsible for finance shall cause to be prepared and laid before the National Assembly, within ninety days of the swearing in of the President, estimates of revenue and expenditure of the Government for that financial year”.

The Article gives a new government 3 months to prepare the budget; and the question that may arise is that can therefore elections be held at any time in an election year since clause 2 doesn’t specify? The answer is no.

Clause 2 is a blanket clause that gives a lee way to a new government to relax and get prepared. But Clause 3 of Article 117 is the focal point on which an election period stands. It restricts the rules of this game. It states that, “The National Assembly shall, subject to clause (2), approve the budget not later than the thirty first day of December”.

This means that by December 31 of an election year, Parliament must have approved the new budget, whether it’s a new government or not for this is the Constitutional deadline.

Mathematically in case of a new government to achieve this Parliament must convene at least 3 months before December, that’s October meaning an election must happen at least 4 months before December in order for the deadline to be met successfully; bringing in an anchor that, whatever happens elections in Zambia can only be held before October and holding them after October would be un constitutional and illegal.

That’s why President Rupiah Banda had no choice but to bring the election date to September 20, 2011 in order to meet constitutional provisions of submitting the budget to Parliament by whichever government is ushered in on this date.

This is how Levy’s shrewdness has been. He indirectly set the period of having elections in Zambia, unlike in the past when the seating president would have a leverage of announcing the date at any time in the year mostly in the rainy season when it would be so hard for the opposition to reach some impassable places due to logistical problems.

Someone may be so hurt by this Levy innovation because it puts the political playing field much flatter than we have experienced before. This is the direct befits of having good leaders in power who put good laws that protect the nation and its people rather than specific individuals. Very few knew this until now and when Constitutional Amendments are made in the future, caution must be taken to make sure such clauses are not repealed by selfish and scared Presidents.

This is a land mark Constitutional law for our democracy. 

read also on: https://sites.google.com/site/mattersarising2011/updates