The opposition FDD has welcomed the ruling of the Constitutional Court to dismiss the petition against the election of President Edgar Lungu on account that the Court had no more jurisdiction on the matter following the expiry of the 14 day period.
FDD Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said his party sympathises with the UPND but there is need to remember that the country is a constitutional democracy hence the Constitution is the Supreme law of the land.
Mr Mwanza said It is common knowledge that the UPND lawyers spent more time filibustering the court instead of presenting their case within the 14 day period and that people should now reconcile and concentrate on building the country which is bigger than any politician.
“We sympathise with UPND but we want to remind everyone that, ours is a Constitutional Democracy therefore the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. There was nothing else the ConCourt could have done other than dismissing the petition following the lapse of the 14 day period.
“We want to urge everyone to bury the hatchet and reconcile with each other. Zambia is bigger than all of us. The ambitions of politicians should not over ride national interest. And in the words of Abraham Lincoln, we are not enemies but friends, though passion might strain, it should not break the bond of our affections,” he said.
He added “It is equally important at this time to take into consideration the many deficiencies in our electoral system and ensure that correct remedial measures are taken to enhance confidence in our electoral system and ensure in future we can have elections that are free, fair, credible and transparent. It should be noted that the court did not dismiss the petition on account of lack of evidence of malpractice but on account of time. Thus the issues to do with alleged irregularities have not been dealt with.”
He also reiterated his party’s call to have ECZ disbanded.
“As FDD we wish to maintain our call to disband ECZ and appoint new commissioners as well as the need to amend the constitution to cure the many mischiefs such as the various ambiguities and lacunas rout in our constitution,” he said.
Meanwhile the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) also commended the the Constitutional Court for finally putting the matter of the presidential Petition to an end saying “they have now acknowledged the case has become time barred after the lapse of time as provided in the Constitution for hearing the petition.”
YALI President Andrew Ntewewe however said his organisation was saddened with the many inconsistencies in the ruling of the Constitutional Court which said has brought the issue competence of judges into public discussion.
Mr Ntewewe said YALI was of the view that the petition should have been given the fair hearing within the 14 days as provided by law as that would have afforded both Mr Hichilema and Mr. Mwamba to be heard.
He said blame should go to all parties involved including the lawyers of both the petitioners and the respondents who should have taken charge of the case.
“We want to make it clear that instead of assigning the single blame on the conduct of the Court which failed to provide direction from the time the petition was filed, parties to the petition ought to be reminded that it is the duty of lawyers representing both petitioners and respondents to take charge of the case,” he said.
He added “We are aware that Rule 36 of The Legal Practitioners’ Rules, 2002 Statutory Instrument No. 51 of 2002 provides as follows:
“A practitioner when conducting proceedings at Court Shall be personally responsible for the conduct and presentation of the client’s case and shall exercise personal judgment upon the substance and Purpose of statements made and question asked.”
He further said “We therefore believe the legal counsels who were retained by the Petioners also had responsibility to help the Court guide all litigants on hearing of this matter within the timeframe as set by the Constitution.
“We also believe the Court and parties to this litigation should have heeded the prior guidance from our legal team, offered in form of a well researched and debated opinion, among our young lawyers and law students on the issue of timeframe rather than dismiss it the way they did which has now cost brought their reputation into question.”