HAKAINDE Hichilema and Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba have lost their application to stop the Attorney General from challenging their claim that the Constitutional Court had failed to hear them in their loss to Edgar Lungu and Inonge Wina.
Judge Chitabo said there was no merit in their application and that their conduct and that of their counsel had shown contumelious disregard for the rules and practice.
He has taken strong exception to the conduct of UPND cadres who invaded and caused mayhem at the High Court, stating that it was an act of serious impunity as it disregarded his prior admonition against the party bringing cadres to the Court.
Judge Chitabo has also blasted HH and GBM for writing a letter to him directly instead of allowing their counsel to do so.
He stated this when delivering his ruling in an application in which the Attorney General filed a notice to raise preliminary issues on whether the Honourable Court could interpret otherwise than in accordance with the interpretation of the Constitutional Court in respect to the time frame within which the Presidential Election petition may be heard and inquire into a question of fair hearing when the Presidential Election was never heard on account of the negligence and inertia of the petitioners.
“There is no record that the petitioners (HH and GBM) have applied for leave to act for the Petitioners as required by Practice Direction to pave way for the Petitioners to act in person. Once a litigant has engaged counsel, then it is counsel who should engage the Court to taking out necessary applications as the case might be,” he said.
The Judge who has now set 26th January, 2017 in chambers for setting of the date for hearing of the motion to raise preliminary issues explained that on 12th December, 2016, he had written to the Attorney General and Counsel to the petitioners that the proceedings would be a strictly a chamber matter.
“I had made it clear that only the learned Counsel and Attorney would have admittance to the chamber.
“When cadres of the petitioners desired to go in the court room which could only accommodate a limited number of people,” he said.
It was in public domain and the Judge took judicial notice that the mayhem that ensued during and after the proceedings in the afternoon of 15th December, 2016 “the situation was so chaotic, public and private property was damaged. The situation was so chaotic that some party cadres presumably trying to escape from the police who were trying to control and manage the apparently irate funs were seen running in the Judges corridors abutting their Chambers. The members of staff and indeed the Judges were subjected to the indignity of having to lock themselves in the chambers lest a calamity occurs and a stray cadres run amok and vent their anger on them”.
“It is obvious that either the parties had decided to disobey with impunity directing that members of the public were not to attend the chamber hearing or the Petitioners could not control or manage their supporters or cadres,” he said.
Judge Chitabo said he did not have to wait until a calamity occurred.
“It was for those reasons that I directed that the Ruling that was scheduled for 20th December, 2016 was postponed to a date to be notified and that the Ruling would be posted to the respective parties of the Attorney once it was ready,” Judge Chitabo said.
He recounted that the scores of enraged cadres and supporters was extremely intimidatory and “I would be forgiven to apprehend that if the matter was to be heard or Ruling delivered on the return date history might repeat itself”.