Veteran politician and ex-diplomat Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has praised President Hakainde Hichilema’s calm reaction to the Lusaka High Court’s decision to stop the Kabushi and Kwacha Parliamentary by-elections from going ahead as planned on 15th September 2022.
The court on Tuesday granted the request by former Kwacha PF Member of Parliament Joseph Malanji and his Kabushi counterpart Bowman Lusambo to suspend the by-elections in the two constituencies pending determination of the matter in which they have contested the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s decision to declare their nomination invalid.
In reaction, President Hichilema said the Lusaka High Court’s decision to stop the Kabushi and Kwacha Parliamentary by-elections from going ahead as planned on 15th September 2022 shows how the New Dawn government has restored Zambia’s democracy.
Judges Mwape Bowa, Sharon Newa and Catherine Phiri ruled that though the High Court does not have the authority to make a determination on constitutional matters, Article 52(4) of the constitution gives it the power to handle challenges relating to nominations in an election.
Speaking to journalists in Ndola on the Copperbelt, President Hichilema said the UPND government has brought orderliness, rule of law, democracy and sanity in the courts.
He said the opposition should thank the UPND administration for restoring fairness and orderliness in court.
“The issue is that in a democracy, in a land of the free, the freedom we fought for. The brutality we took out, the lawlessness we took out, guns, teargas, bullets, we also have brought space, democratic space, rule of law. When a citizen or citizens go to court or the government is involved in that process. There is only one outcome. A decision will be made in favour of one litigant against one another. That is the democracy we fought for. That litigant who has won could be a citizen like you (journalist) over whatever matter. The one who has lost is another citizen or the government or a company. This is normal and I am surprised Zambians are beginning to talk a lot around this issue,” President Hichilema said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mwaanga described President Hichilema’s reaction to the sudden postponement of elections in the two Parliamentary constituencies as amazingly calm and mature.
The former Information Minister said President Hichilema respected the right of citizens and organizations seeking redress through the courts of law.
Dr. Mwaanga said the High Court ruling on Tuesday 13th September, 2022 left a great majority of citizens confused.
“It was stated a few weeks ago that some independent candidates would be sponsored to withdraw from the race just before voting day, to induce a postponement of the elections. The High Court ruling Tuesday 13th September left a great majority of our citizens confused. The President of the Republic of Republic of Zambia, Mr Hakainde Hichilema spent days campaigning in the two constituencies and he was preceded by the Vice President Mrs Mutale Nalumango. After the refusal of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), to accept the eligibility of former Members of Parliament whose election had been annulled, went on to announce that elections in the two constituencies would go ahead as originally scheduled on 15th September. Then came the bombshell ruling of the High Court two days before the voting, which was reported to have stopped the voting on 15th September. This ruling was received with mixed feelings. Money was spent by those candidates and ECZ had spent on preparations and printed ballot papers, deployment and training of officials who would oversee the elections,” Dr. Mwaanga said.
“We are certainly strengthening our democracy, judging from some of the irresponsible and abusive statements being against leaders, including the President. We fought for the reintroduction of democracy, but democracy is not the equivalent of anarchy. President Hichilema’s reaction to the sudden postponement of elections in the two Parliamentary constituencies was amazingly calm and mature. He respected the right of citizens and Organizations to seek redress through our courts of law, when they feel aggrieved. It is their Constitutional right to do so. Democracy does not mean that the laws of our country are no longer applicable. It is the same even in the advanced and older democratic countries. I fear that most of the values which were left by our founding fathers have been thrown out of the window. Intolerance and evil thoughts have now taken centre stage,” he said.
Dr. Mwaanga also called on politicians not to treat each other as enemies.
“In a democracy, disagreements are normal, but even when we disagree, our disagreements should be civil, temperate, and respectful and not become vulgar. Politics are not about war or violence. They are about service to the people who are our masters. Opposing politicians should not treat each other as enemies, but mere opponents with competing ideas. Our political leaders should tame their tongues. What we urgently need is a postmortem of what has just happened and where we went wrong, to be immediately followed by the appointment of a special committee to tidy up the mess in the Constitution of Zambia, which was left by the PF government. In addition to sealing loopholes and curing lacunas, the committee should also look at outstanding issues such as the need for increasing the representation of women in Parliament and Local Councils,” Dr. Mwaanga said.