By I. Mwanza
The Electoral Commission of Zambia has been playing double standards on the cancellation of elections whenever a candidate withdraws from the race. In Monze Central and Mandevu when some candidates resigned from the race, ECZ failed to cancel the parliamentary election and to call for fresh nominations as per Article 52(6). In Lusaka Central and Mpulungu Constituencies, ECZ canceled the election and called for fresh nominations. This was during the 2021 General Election.
The Constitutional Court has not been helpful as well because it has joined the other higher courts in late delivery of judgments. The observations made by Sean Tembo on the performance of the courts are timely and very valid when it comes to delivering judgments. A Lusaka lawyer had sued ECZ over the interpretation of Article 52(6) and the matter was heard around October 2021.
Until now the Court has dragged in delivering judgment, leaving the Commission to be the one deciding what to do when it comes to someone withdrawing from the race.
So the Courts themselves have not helped in the growth of democracy by clarifying the Constitutional provisions in a timely manner. For me, this is why am further opposed to merging the Constitutional Court with the Supreme Court which is already overwhelmed and still hearing appeals of 10 years or more ago. Once you move Constitutional issues to the Supreme Court, it will get more worser than what is happening.
But I also think it is not right leave matters ot Article 52(6) to the compromised Electoral Commission of Zambia. The Commission cannot be the authority in deciding when Article 52(6) would be invoked and when it would not be invoked.
On whether the election would be cancelled in Kabwata, the issue appears to be that the UPND may need to change the candidate.
Tayengwa would certainly not win them back the seat and its slowly becoming clear by the day. Ordinary voters in Kabwata see him as a foriegn national and they are undecided no matter the explanation being given. So the race is now boiling down to Clement Tembo v. Outspoken Chilufya Tayali.
Let’s see how ECZ will act up