DAVID Chanda, the president of the deregistered Democratic Front (DF), has come to the defence of Higher Education minister Michael Kaingu over the now contentious Grade 12 certificate qualification for people aspiring to contest elective positions in the August general elections.
He said Dr Kaingu, who has been advocating that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) allow aspiring candidates with diplomas and degrees to contest even if they did not meet the constitutional provision of a Grade 12 certificate, should be supported.
Mr Chanda said the purpose of introducing the Grade 12 certificate clause was to get rid of the mischief of people who could fail to debate and comprehend issues in Parliament.
He said in an interview that people with diplomas, degrees and other higher academic qualifications were more comprehensive in debates than a mere Grade 12 certificate holder.
Mr Chanda said in the constitutional golden rule, there were two interpretations which included the literal constitutional interpretation and the purposive interpretation rule.
He explained that in literal rule constitutional interpretation, the golden rule in relation to the Grade 12 certificate clause meant that apart from other qualifications such as diplomas and degrees, a Grade 12 certificate was always a must.
Mr Chanda said it was misleading to argue that one must always have a Grade 12 certificate for him or her to pursue or obtain a diploma or a degree, stating that when interpreting the Constitution, it was wrong for anyone to use literal rule.
He said as Zambians were waiting for the Constitutional Court to give an interpretation to the Grade 12 certificate clause, there was need to understand that the legal brains would have to engage purpose rule which inquies into the purpose of the law being introduced.
“The golden rule in the interpretation of the Constitution is governed by two rules which are the literal rule and purposive rule. Regarding Article 72 of the Constitution that is about the Grade 12 certificate clause, it is important to interpret the Constitution using the purposive rule because the literal rule would be misleading.
‘‘The purpose of the Grade 12 certificate clause was meant to get rid of the mischievousness of the people who failed to debate and comprehend issues in Parliament. But it is true that a person with a degree can better debate and be more comprehensive in debate than a mere Grade 12 certificate holder and this is where I agree with Dr Kaingu,” Mr Chanda said.
Quoting the legal guidance of Lord Symons Maunsell vs Olins (1975), Mr Chanda said the first task of the Constitutional Court was to put itself in the shoes of the draftsman to consider what knowledge and statutory objective he had in formulating such a law.
“Being thus, the court proceeds to ascertain the purpose or to interpret and seek to look for the purpose of the legislation before interpreting the words. The tone of debate in the public sittings during the constitution-making process was to get rid of people who could not debate.
I therefore agree with Dr Kaingu but we are going to wait for the Constitutional Court to interpret the clause,” Mr Chanda said.