The Ndola High Court has declared that the Electoral Commission of Zambia(ECZ)’s ban on campaign rallies is legal and that acted within its constitutional mandate.
This is in a case where United Party for National Development (UPND) Secretary-general Batuke Imenda had applied for leave to seek the relief of the court to declare the decision by the ECZ to ban political party rallies ahead of the August 12th General elections illegal as well as compelling the commission to prescribe the amount of airtime given to all participating political parties and independents on public Electronic and Print Media.
Making her ruling yesterday, High Court judge Mary Mulanda said that article 229 of the Republican Constitution amendment number 2 of 2016 provides, under sub-article 2(e), that ECZ shall regulate the conduct of voters and candidates, adding that on paragraph 3(1)(f) of the Electoral Code of conduct which confers a duty on the ECZ to ensure that a campaign meeting or rally which is duly organized by a registered a political party is not disrupted or arbitrary prohibited.
Judge Mulanda said the decision by the commission to ban the rallies in view of the surge in Covid 19 cases in the country was not arbitrary as the country has been on Alert State since March 2020 describing the decision as having been made to safeguard the lives of people and was in the best interest of the country and its people.
Judge Mulanda added that campaigns have been allowed to go ahead with parties advised to use appropriate campaign strategies such as mobile public address system, distribution of flyers, and other political party materials with minimal or no contact with the crowds.
However, the Court has granted Mr. Imenda leave to apply for judicial review challenging the failure by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to prescribe the amount of airtime allocated to participating political parties on public television and radio media platforms.
Judge Mulanda said that the prescription of airtime to all participating political parties is highly necessary to enable parties including independents to have equal campaign opportunities in the run upto to the August General elections.