The Electoral Commission of Zambia has set 26th June, 2018 as nomination dates for mayoral and council chairpersons by elections in Lusaka, Kasenengwa, Chasefu, Chipangali, Lumezi, Lusangazi, and Chifunabuli Districts, two days before the Constitutional Court hear the question on serving councillors in affected districts.
The good news for political parties and councillors is that ECZ is prepared to accept the nomination of any councillor who is adopted by any party or decides to run for these elections without requiring a councillor/deputy Mayor or Vice Council Chairperson to resign their positions.
The Constitutional Court, one of the highest court in the land will on 28 June, 2018 will now be limited to determining whether a councillor who wins mayoral or council chairperson elections would have to resign at all.
ECZ has already filed before the Constiturional Court that only Members of Parliament are the ones not eligible to contest elections, a position that has now created a level-playing field between serving councillors and non councillors to contest mayoral and Council Chairperson elections.
Shortly after ECZ filed their position before the Constitutional Court, the Commission proceeded to announce nomination and elections dates for elections, paving way for councillors, deputy mayors and Council Chairpersons who intend to run for these elections to do so, without any need for them to resign.
State institutions in Zambia don’t wait for the Courts to decide a matter which is before Court before they could proceed with discharging their mandate. ECZ had upto August 16, 2018 to conduct mayoral by elections for Lusaka.
The Courts in Zambia also operate in their own world. They care less about whether processes are turned into academic exercise or not. When the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) had moved the Court to order that Ministers vacate from office during time petition was filed, it was the Court that protected the ministers and refused to grant that order. However, shortly before the 2016 general elections, the same Court ruled that ministers had stayed illegally and ordered them to pay back, when they had watched them stay and refused the LAZ applications for them to leave. The result is here to be seen today as to who has paid back even a ngwee.
That is why it was strategic for those who petitioned President Lungu’s eligibility to stand again in 2021 to do so many years before the 2021 general elections because time doesn’t wait for anyone. It was also strategic that the question of councillors was put before the Court and ECZ had to explain to the Court, paving way for councillors, deputy mayors or vice chairpersons who intend to contest to do so.
Basically, the decision of ECZ to announce election dates after it filed its position in the Constitution Court has opened up an opportunity for every councillor, deputy mayor or council chairpersons to run for forthcoming elections without them resigning, and where the person wins an election, it will depend on what the Court will have said to determine whether they can hold a seat as ward-based councillor and at the same time as a mayor or council chairperson.
By Isaac Mwanza