By Paul Moonga
The Author is the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Member of Central Committee (MCC)
Following the Presidential and general elections held on 11th August, 2016 which were eventually scooped by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) candidate Hakainde Hichilema filed a petition in the Constitutional Court challenging that election.
In the weeks that followed, the country has witnessed one of the most heartbreaking political developments in relation to the conduct of the Constitutional Court and that of public officials who have influence on our national affairs.
This country witnessed very unpredictable legal trajectories of all times and I feel duty-bound, compelled and attracted to give views of our party, the PF.
Of utmost interest in this matter is the strange position that was taken by the president of the Constitutional Court, Ms Justice Hildah Chibomba to award four extra days to the two parties after the expiry of the 14 days provided by the constitution.
This legal contest was only served with the split decisions offered by Judge Palan Mulonda, Judge Mungeni Mulenga and Judge Ann Sitali while the president of the court, Madam Chibomba and Margaret Munalula held that the court needed to extend the time of hearing outside what the constituition provided.
The extension was clearly illegal, illogical and irregular and contravened Article 101(5) and 269(a).
I want to insist that the position taken by the judge president and Madam professor Mulalula was very strange because the provisions of the constitution are very clear that the petition should be heard and determined in 14 days. By the events of Friday last week, when the Constitutional Court passed that verdict to allow Mr Hichilema’s petition to be heard out of time, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution there was a covert attempt to rape and annihilate the law of the land.
We are aware as a party that Mr Hichilema told the nation in the aftermath of that strange ruling that “the Constitution only stated that the presidential election petition must be heard within 14 days.
He argued that the constitution did not provide that the petition must be heard and determined within 14 days. The catch words, according to him, is that to be “heard and determined.”
We find this argument very disgusting and tiresome to say the least. I am raising this matter just in case Judge Chibomba and Ms Justice Munalula may have been influenced by this flawed thinking.
I have a question for the two judges. When judges are confronted with such a situation, what factors are they supposed to consider? I am not a lawyer myself but I am advised that judges confronted with a situation like this are supposed to employ the mischief rule in arriving at a decision. What mischief were the people of Zambia trying to cure when they came up with such a provision in our constitution?
Clearly, the mischief the people of Zambia sought to cure was the avoidance of unnecessary delays in disposing off the presidential election petition thereby disadvantaging the winning president from taking office. So I wonder what authority the Constitutional Court president Judge and Madam Munalula used to pass that most frivolous ruling in the judicial practice of our country?
I smell a rat in that conduct and it is clear that Madam Chibomba and Madam Munalula did not mean well in advancing that ruling. The ruling was meant to favour UPND candidate Hakainde Hichilema even when they knew that he deliberately caused delays to the petition hearing owing to the lack of evidence that could have caused the nullification of the election of President Lungu. The delays through baseless applications were meant to buy time and make up for the absence of evidence to buttress their case.
I am therefore compelled to demand that Ms Justice Chibomba and professor Munalula should immediately resign from their positions as Judges of the Constitutional court to pave way for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to probe their conduct.
As a party, we are not convinced that Madam Chibomba and Munalula’s conduct was a mere legal mistake. We believe that this was a planned action influenced by the desire to pass a verdict in favour of Mr Hichilema and the UPND.
We do not expect a legal brain at the caliber of Madam Chibomba and professor Munalula to lack the necessary knowledge to understand the provisions of the constitution. We think they were being mischievous and played naivity with a very sensitive matter in the legal and political life of our country. That action is inexcusable and they must resign to save the collapse of our judiciary.
HH and his politics
In addition, it is observable that UPND president HH has been the most tribal politician. We should not blame the people of southern province for voting in the manner they did. This is the massage Mr Hichilame has been promoting in his campaigns and this has reflected in the events after the announcement of the election results.
His boastful message that he is the only one who can fix the economy to the exclusion of all other Zambians is a demonstration of selfsihness. It must be noted that Mr Hichilema was a nonbody before privatization of the Mines of this country and earned money when he was given consultancy to spearhead the privatization of the mines.
There are several people who became overnight millionairs after privatization but have kept quiet and never talk about their riches.
So Mr Hichilema should avoid boasting to Zambians that he alone can fix the economy.
Lastly, we wish to thank the people of Zambia for coming out in large numbers to prevent Mr Hichilema from coming to power.
President Lungu likes to consult and brings everyone on board unlike leaders who believe that only they can fix the economy. The President’s decision to create the Ministry of Religious Affairs will help bridge the gap between the people and his government.