Lusaka High Court judge-in-charge Getrude Chawatama said in her ruling that this was not the right time to engage in academic exercises, given the workload that the courts were currently battling with.
UPND and NDC had applied for leave to amend the originating summons in the said matter.
Mulambo Haimbe, a lawyer representing UPND secretary general Steven Katuka, submitted to the Lusaka High Court that the proposed amendments had been necessitated by the change in the circumstances under which the original matter was brought, as the Chilubi by-election had already taken place.
Katuka and Bridget Atanga, in her capacity as NDC secretary general, citing ECZ and Mwila as first and second respondents, were previously seeking among other reliefs, an order of interim injunction to restrain the commission from permitting the holding of the Chilubi by-election, as well as, an order of mandatory injunction directing ECZ to postpone the Chilubi by-election to February 20, this year.
But according to an amended originating summons, Katuka and Atanga were now seeking a declaration that ECZ may be compelled by the court to take such steps as the court may direct to secure a free and fair election, including but not limited to ECZ being compelled to exercise the powers conferred upon it by statue which enable it to conduct, manage, supervise and control elections in a fair and impartial manner.
They wanted the court to determine whether or not a party aggrieved by the conduct of an election by ECZ can compel the commission to execute its functions pursuant to the provisions of the law that place a duty on ECZ to conduct free and fair elections.
And, in the event that the ECZ blatantly violates or breaches its statutory duty prior to the poll being undertaken, whether or not an aggrieved party can seek relief from the court so as to secure a free and fair election, among other questions.
However, in her ruling, judge Chawatama said she had perused the proposed amended originating summons but added that, she did not see how declarations to the remainder of the questions would help the applicants’ case or how the applicants would execute the declarations even if they were made in their favor.
She said the court frowned upon being drawn into academic exercises as the answers to the questions to be determined were clearly stated in the Electoral Process Act and the Regulations and declarations would indeed serve no purpose.
“While I appreciated the great effort counsel had made in trying to salvage this case, however, given the workload that our courts are currently battling with I don’t think this is the right time to engage in academic exercises. In view of the foregoing, the application to amend the originating process is dismissed. Each party to bear its own costs,” ruled Justice Chawatama.