The Judiciary has announced that the Constitutional Court (Amendment) rules, SI No. 29 of 2021 came into force on 12th April 2021.
Among the notable changes brought about by the amendments include a presidential election petition which must be filed together with an affidavit verifying the facts relied upon, skeleton arguments, a list of authorities and copies of the authorities cited in the written arguments.
Other changes are that the Petitioner must effect personal service of the petition on the Respondent within twenty-four hours of filing the petition and must also file an affidavit of service to prove service of the petition.
Furthermore, the Respondent must then file an answer to the petition together with skeleton arguments, a list of authorities and copies of the authorities cited within four days of being served with the petition and must serve the answer on the Petitioner within twenty-four hours of filing including an affidavit of service showing proof of service.
Additionally, the Petitioner must file a reply to the answer within 24 hours of being served with the answer.
According to a statement issued to the media by Judiciary of Zambia Public Relations Officer, Kalumba Slavin, the Court must summon the parties to a scheduling conference after the filing of the answer in order to issue directions for the expeditious hearing and determination of the petition within the prescribed 14 days.
“Interlocutory applications should be made before the commencement of the hearing of the petition and the applications will be heard on the basis of written submissions not exceeding ten pages,” said Mrs Slavin.
She added that the Registrar must notify the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) of the filing of a presidential election petition where ECZ is not a party to the petition.
“This is important because ECZ, as the custodian of election materials, may be required to avail to the Court relevant elections materials in the course of the proceedings,” she stated.
Mrs Slavin further noted that the determination of the petition by the Court will be based on affidavit evidence as well as oral and written submissions.
“The Court is empowered to give a summary of its decision at the close of the hearing of the petition and to reserve its reasoned decision to a later date within sixty days from the last date of the hearing,”
She added. “The Court Registry’s official hours of business run from 08:00 hours to 15:00 with effect from the day of filing of a presidential election petition to the last date of the hearing of the petition in order to give parties sufficient time to file documents relating to the petition,”
Members of the public have since been encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Constitutional Court (Amendment) Rules, 2021 which are currently being published in the daily newspapers.