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Alba Iulia
Wednesday, March 24, 2021

ECZ to Clarify on Wednesday on the Grade 12 Certificate Requirement to Stand for Public Office

Feature Politics ECZ to Clarify on Wednesday on the Grade 12 Certificate Requirement to...

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has said that it will give guidance on the debate which characterized on qualifications to be used to file for the nominations.

Corporate Affairs Manager Patricia Luhanga said that this will help the public to know what qualifications to be used for file nominations during this year’s general elections.

Ms Luhanga said that the Commission will inform the public on Wednesday this week regarding the matter.

In an interview, Ms Luhanga said that, therefore, the public should wait for clarification from the Commission so that everything can be put on record. “The Commission will give guidance on the matter on Wednesday, CEO will be addressing the media,” Ms Luhanga says.

Last week, the Constitutional Court delivered split judgment in the Lundazi Central petition ruling that member of Parliament Lawrence Nyirenda did not breach the constitution and also that he does not have the requisite Grade 12 certificate and must vacate the House, leading to the debate about the interpretation of the grade 12 certificate debate.

This is in a matter where losing candidate for Lundazi Constituency Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika asked the Constitutional Court to declare the Lundazi parliamentary seat vacant and order the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to hold elections within 90 days.

Col Nkunika, who had cited Lawrence Nyirenda as first respondent and ECZ as the second respondent in the matter claimed that Nyirenda does not have the minimum academic qualifications as prescribed under Article 70 (1) (d) of the Constitution of Zambia because he does not hold a minimum grade 12 certificate.

One section of the Constitutional Court said that Nyirenda and the Electoral Commission of Zambia did not breach the Constitution when the electoral body allowed Nyirenda to file his nomination for the 2016 parliamentary election without the requisite grade 12 certificate or its equivalent. According to the majority judgment by judges Ann Sitali, Mungeni Mulenga and Martin Musaluke, the Constitutional Court stated that Nyirenda’s nomination was based on other qualifications that were deemed equivalent to grade 12 certificate as notified by the electoral body. The court said the Electoral Commission of Zambia had an obligation to obey the pronouncement of the High Court in the Sibongile Zulu case that a draft vocational or apprenticeship certificate would be equivalent to a grade 12 certificate. Judge Musaluke said the court cannot disregard the central role which the judgment of the Sibongile case played in the 2016 elections in regards to the interpretation of what constituted a grade 12 certificate.

He said the description by the Zambia Qualifications Authority and the Examination Council of Zambia of what constitutes a grade 12 certificate cannot apply to Nyirenda because at the time of his nomination and election, there was a binding High Court decision upon which the electoral body acted.

Justice Musaluke said Col Nkunika did not challenge the validity of Nyirenda’s nomination or his election due to the instructions by ECZ that candidates without grade 12 certificates but had other qualifications should be accepted.

He added that Col. Nkuinka’s claims regarding the contravention of Article 70 (1)(d) of the Constitution failed and was dismissed.

However, the other Constitutional court judges thought otherwise in their dissenting judgments. Constitutional Court President Hildah Chibomba and Palan Mulonda said Nyirenda ought to be disqualified as a member of parliament as he does not have the requisite academic qualifications and contravenes Article 70(1)(d) of the Constitution. Justice Chibomba in her dissenting judgment said the Sibongile case should not oust the interpretation of Article 70(1)(d) as the implication of such a decision was that a contravention of the Constitution must not arise until the court declares. She said any Act that contravenes the constitution after it came into force should be rendered unconstitutional and illegal ab initio.

“The Sibongile Zulu case did not qualify any person in an election or member of parliament. It directed would be candidates to present their qualifications before ECZ in a manner evidencing that he or she has completed the required education programme or its equivalent,” justice Chibomba said.

She said ECZ’s mandate was to either accept or reject the nomination based in the qualifications submitted by candidates. Judge Chibomba cautioned the electoral body against allowing candidates who do not have a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent to file their nominations.

“It has not been shown that ECZ complied with the guidelines given by the High Court in the Sibongile Zulu case. In my view, Nyirenda and ECZ contravened Article 70 (1)(d) of the Constitution on grounds that the certificates Nyirenda produced during his nomination were not equivalent to a grade 12 certificate,” said judge Chibomba.

” I would have ordered that since he did not meet the requirements of Article 70 (1)(d) of the Constitution his nomination and election and continued holding of office as member of parliament is contrary to the said Article and should be disqualified from continuing to hold office.”

And justice Mulonda said the Sibongile Zulu case cannot continue to hold in view of the fact that Nyirenda does not possess requisite academic qualifications.

He said the constitution was clear on the consequences of its contravention and any contravention of the Constitution was illegal.

Judge Mulonda ruled that according to the evidence by ZAQA and the Examination Council of Zambia, which was that Nyirenda does not possess requisite academic qualifications Article 70 (1)(d) of the Constitution, disqualifies him from being a member of parliament.

“Nyirenda not being in possession of a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent stands disqualified in terms of Article 70 (1)(d) of the Constitution and cannot continue to sit in Parliament as to do so will not only be illegal under Article 1(2) of the Constitution but a dereliction of duty on our part as a court. I would have ordered that Nyirenda should not have continued to sit as a member of parliament as this goes against Article 70 (1)(d) of the Constitution,” said justice Mulonda

19 COMMENTS

  1. What a mess! If you start assembling O levels and after 5 years you accumulate 5 O levels; that is not a school certificate. A school certificate entails having obtained 5 O levels at one sitting. Very few MPs have school certificates. They may have 5 O levels after spending time assembling.

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  2. Stop yapping and complaining. My darling patricia will give guidance on that matter. Until then, only my beautiful friend Patricia knows the answer. You can comment as much as you want but you ain’t got the answers!

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  3. Grade 12 is Form 5. PERIOD.
    Not equivalent to what Malanje has paid ECZ.
    Malanje is a Form 3, which was changed to Grade 9. So 12 trips on Helicopter offered to ECZ is not GRADE 12, its 12 flying trips.
    They had time to go back to school, Davies Mwila did, and he got G12 certificate with 6 distinctions!!
    No Malanjes on ballot!!

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  4. To be fair, let me state that those who have toiled hard to assemble at least 5 O levels do have the required qualifications. Remember that you can also acquire a degree without having O levels. You can have a PhD without a Masters degree. You can have as many degrees as they are on a thermometer, but still think like a fool, and steal from the poor.

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  5. This is not a job for ECZ. It is the job of the lawmakers and Con court. Unfortunately our parliamentarians instead of addressing these matters while in parliament, they walk out of parliament to and have Pizza in new Kasama. The end result is to have a constitution that has a lot of holes. Up to now the issue of the public order act remains unresolved.

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    • The Haman, Esther and Mordecai story . Have you ever listened to parliamentary debates among pf MPs when UPND MPs are not the house?

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  6. This is not a job for ECZ. It is the job of the lawmakers and Con court. Unfortunately our parliamentarians instead of addressing these matters while in parliament, they walk out of parliament to and have Pizza in new Kasama. The end result is to have a constitution that has a lot of holes. Till now the issue of the public order act remains unresolved.

  7. These are the things that should have been ironed out 24 months ago but unfortunately political parties wait till the last minute …you can not even sit for G12 exams now!!

  8. What is special with Grade 12 certificate for it to be more important than a degree? PHD is far higher than grade 12. A PHD holder can lecture at any college or University. Can a grade 12 do that? This law needs immediate amendment or other countries will be laughing at us.
    Where were Jack Mwiimbu and Mweetwa to allow this law remain like this. May be they had walked out as usual.

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  9. Please do not relax any requirement. If anything, ramp them upwards. No mercy. We have to separate the corn from the chuff once and for all. My please.

  10. The CONCOURT was even merciful and very understanding. The minimum requirement MUST BE 6 straight points i.e division 1s in 6 points i.e Religious Education PLUS any five from from [English , Maths , Additional Maths , Physics , Chemistry , Biology] . A one in Religious Education is mandatory because Zambia is a Christian Nation…. What do you say KZ. EFINTU!! kikikiki

  11. Grade 12 is Zambia’s Grade 12! See equivalents being referenced as examples are not Zambian thus what are Zambian equivalents? I just hope that the clarification will not be at variance with what is written for any adulteration will be null and void! Otherwise let the next parliament after elections deal with this issue!

  12. Minimum yativuta indipo. “You are allowed a minimum of one bottle”… takes second bottle. “You are not allowed! That is not minimum!” Tizasewana ndithu.

  13. This court, and its supposed to be the highest court in the land? come on!!
    Simply put, where there is a minimum there must be a maximum period! The Sibongile judgement was very sound and such are the caliber of judges worthy to be sitting at the concourt bench.

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