High Court declines to halt Chilubi poll

The Chilubi by-election will go ahead tomorrow because the Lusaka High Court has declined to postpone it by postponing hearing to Friday.

Lusaka High Court judge Gertrude Chawatama allowed an adjournment in the matter where UPND and NDC have sued the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and PF secretary general Davies Mwila, seeking an order of interim injunction to restrain the commission from permitting the holding of the Chilubi by-election this Thursday.

She adjourned the matter to this Friday for a status update after the Attorney General applied to join the proceedings, an application which was granted.

In this matter, Steven Katuka, suing in his capacity as UPND secretary general and Bridget Atanga, suing in her capacity as NDC secretary general, cited ECZ and Mwila as first and second respondents, respectively.

The two were seeking an order of mandatory injunction directing the ECZ to postpone the Chilubi by-election pursuant to Section 57 of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 such that the poll should instead take place on February 20, 2020.

Katuka and Atanga further want an order directing ECZ to disqualify the Patriotic Front from further participation in the by-election and an order directing the ECZ to extend the campaign period such that it will end on February 19, 2020 at 18:00 hours instead of February 12, 2020 at 18:00 hours as earlier scheduled.

The two also want an order directing the ECZ to ensure that the Zambia Police conducts itself professionally and allows all parties to campaign freely without hindrance within the law and an order directing ECZ to summon ZNBC so as to allow equal media coverage to all political parties participating in the Chilubi by-election.

According to an affidavit in support of originating summons and in support of summons for an order of interim injunction, Atanga and Katuka stated that from the outset, the said by-election has been merred by electoral malpractice by the PF which has done everything to ensure that the environment in which the by election has been conducted is favourable to its candidate.

They added that this had been made possible by the fact that PF was the ruling party and was therefore able to control state resources to its advantages.

When the matter came up for inter-parte hearing on the application for an order of injunction in Chambers, Wednesday, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka applied to be joined the proceedings as a respondent, which the court granted.

Kalaluka and Mwila then applied to have the matter adjourned to enable them respond to Katuka and Atanga’s allegations.

But Katuka and Atanga, through their lawyers Mulambo Haimbe from Malambo and Company and Christopher Mundia of Messers CL Mundia and Company objected to the application, arguing that unless an injunction was granted to them, the matter would stand dismissed if the adjournment was granted as the elections were slated for tomorrow.

But in her ruling, Justice Gertrude Chawatama adjourned the case to Friday for a status update.

The service of the court summons was not effected on the PF as the Secretariat was locked as at yesterday (Wednesday) when the applicants attempted to serve them on Mwila.

However, the PF lawyers came through.

ECZ is represented by three lawyers whereas PF was also represented by three lawyers from Eric Silwamba, Jalasi and Linyama Legal Practitioners.

Earlier, acting ECZ chief electoral officer Roy Katongo stated in an affidavit in opposition to summons for an order of interim injunction that the law provided for a redress mechanism concerning the election of a Member of Parliament, which should be by way of a petition after the declaration of the elections.

“There are other political parties namely People’s Alliance for Change and United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia which are participating in the Chilubi by-election and are not parties to the proceedings which may be prejudicial if the application is granted without hearing from them. In the absence of the verified information it would not be in the interest of justice to grant the application by the applicant,” stated Katongo.

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