Lundazi Central Independent member of parliament Lawrence Nyirenda who has been dragged to the Constitutional Court for allegedly not having a full a Grade 12 certificate, has insisted that the matter should be dismissed because ECZ wouldn’t have allowed him to contest the general elections without necessary qualifications.
And Nyirenda has asked the ConCourt to join the Attorney General to the proceedings saying the matter is of public policy and requires the involvement of government.
In this matter, Lundazi Central loosing independent candidate Bizwayo Nkunika has petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare the parliamentary seat vacant, alleging that the current Independent member of parliament does not hold a full Grade 12 certificate.
Nkunika cited Nyirenda and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as first and second respondents, stating that ECZ contravened article 70 and 72 of the Constitution when it allowed Nyirenda to contest the Lundazi Central seat without meeting the minimum qualifications.
He wants the court to declare the seat vacant and that ECZ should hold elections within 90 days.
But in an affidavit in opposition to the petition filed on May 23, Nyirenda disputed all the accusations that Nkunika leveled against him.
He under listed his qualifications saying, during the 2016 general elections, all his qualifications were certified as per instruction from ECZ and that the commission was satisfied with them according to ECZ qualification requirements.
Nyirenda explained that ECZ Lundazi Constituency presiding officer George Banda returned his Grade 12 certificate to him because his tertiary certificates were enough for him to contest the elections.
“ECZ, Lundazi Constituency presiding officer Mr George Banda received all my five certificates and he was satisfied with them according to Electoral Commission of Zambia qualification requirements. He categorised my qualifications into two parts, that is ‘my Grade 12 certificate belonged to part A’ and my tertiary certificates belonged to part ‘B’,” he stated.
“He collected all the four tertiary certificates and recorded them on the same ECZ form under part ‘B’, as for my grade 12 certificate he returned it to me and said all the tertiary certificates were enough for me to contest the elections thus no provision has been violated.”
He explained that when he asked the ECZ officer why his Grade 12 certificate was returned, he was informed that his tertiary certificate was sufficient to enable him contest the elections.
Nyirenda added that all his qualifications were equivalent or higher than a Grade 12 certificate.
“ECZ was satisfied with my qualifications that is why I was allowed to contest the general elections,” he stated.
Nyirenda charged that Nkunika had all the time to challenge his election but instead spent all that time outlined in the constitution to harassing him using a Zambia Police Officer by the name of Kabamba from the Force Headquarters.
He claimed that Nkunika had embarked on the proceedings after failing to use the police to dislodge him from Parliament using intimidation.
Nyirenda asked the court to refuse to entertain the matter as doing so would create a bad precedence following the dismissal of Hakainde Hichilema’s election petition after expiry of the 14 days barred by the same Constitution.
“The petitioner cannot bring this application before court now as he had all the time to petition, thus this is an abuse of court process and an attempt to derail the respondents peaceful enjoyment of his seat,” Nyirenda stated.
He asked the court not to entertain the matter as it had not complied with the time frames set in the Constitution and also dismiss it with costs.
Meanwhile, Nyirenda has asked the Court to join the Attorney General as third respondent to the proceedings, as the matter was of public policy and required the involvement of government.
He stated that if the Attorney General was not joined, government may be prejudiced by the judgement that may be passed as the matter was of public policy.