The Constitutional Court of Zambia has issued a judgment clarifying that parliamentary elections will no longer be postponed when an independent candidate withdraws from the race. The judgment, delivered by Constitutional Court Judges Annie Sitali, Mugeni Mulenga, and Palan Mulonda, specifically addressed Article 52, Sub-Article 6 of the Constitution, which outlines conditions for the postponement of parliamentary elections.
The court’s ruling came in response to a case filed by the Governance, Elections, Advocacy and Research Initiative (GEARS Initiative) in September of the previous year. GEARS Initiative sought clarification on whether Article 52, Sub-Article 6 of the Constitution applies to independent candidates who withdraw from parliamentary elections after the nomination period has closed. Additionally, the organization sought an interpretation of whether the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) could cancel by-elections when an independent candidate withdraws from the race, in accordance with Section 35 of the Electoral Process Act.
The judgment has settled public debates surrounding the status of parliamentary elections in cases where independent candidates withdraw. Lackson Lungu, Chairperson of the GEARS Initiative Advisory Council, expressed his satisfaction with the court’s verdict. In an interview with ZNBC news in Lusaka, Lungu stated that the judgment provides clarity and protects the ECZ and parliamentary candidates from unforeseen costs associated with postponed elections.
This ruling marks an important milestone in the electoral process, ensuring that parliamentary elections proceed as scheduled even if an independent candidate chooses to withdraw from the race. By removing the possibility of postponements in such cases, the court’s decision promotes electoral stability, allows for efficient planning and resource allocation, and upholds the democratic principles of free and fair elections in Zambia.