The Constitutional Court will on May 17, this year, rule on whether Deputy Mayors and council chairpersons are eligible to contest their positions after the lapse of their term of office.
This is the matter in which, former Chinsali Deputy Mayor Martin Chitondo and former council chairpersons Obert Tembo (Luangwa), Roland Hamamba (Chilanga), Ignatius Hang’ombe (Chisamba) and Simeon Zimba (Chama) sought the court’s interpretation of the law after the Ministry of Local Government barred them from contesting their positions in the just ended council elections.
They cited the Attorney General as the respondent in the matter.
The five had asked the court to stay the deputy mayoral and council chairpersons until determination of the matter.
However, the court declined to do so and instead ordered that it would make a determination as reference to future cases.
And when the matter came up for hearing, Tuesday, before Constitutional Court judge Annie Sitali sitting with four other judges, the applicants argued through their lawyer that the Constitution stated that there would be the office of the mayor whose office would run for five years.
They added that the provisions that Deputy Mayors and council chairpersons term of office should run for two and half years, was bad law.
“It is absurd for the Mayor and Chairperson to hold office for five years whereas those next in line still hold two and half years. There is no justification for such a law and it is illogical as the two offices are suppose to run concurrently,” they argued.
The applicants argued that the holding of elections every two and half years necesitatted expenditure of resources, adding that given the current state of affairs, it was not in public interest.
However, in response the State through Chief State Advocate Joe Simachela urged the court to dismiss the application with costs.
Simachela argued that Article 154 (1) and 154 (2) clearly provided for the term of office of the mayor and chairperson tenure.
He said that it was prescribed by section 17 (1) of the Local Government Act which was still applicable, to the extent that the tenure of office of the Deputy mayor and chairperson was still good law.
“Section 17 (1) is consistent with the constitution and that the tenure of office of the Deputy Mayor and chairperson is still two and half years and passing of the amendments may not be tenable to these provisions. We submit that this court dismisses the originating summons with costs to the respondent ,” Simachela said.
The court however reserved ruling to May 17, 2019 after hearing arguments from the parties in the matter.