LUNDAZI Central Independent member of parliament Lawrence Nyirenda who is accused of not having a full a Grade 12 certificate has insisted that he was allowed to contest the 2016 parliamentary elections because the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) was satisfied with his qualifications.
Nyirenda submitted to the Constitutional Court that the law does not specify the grades of the grade 12 certificate and its equivalent.
In this matter, Lundazi Central losing independent candidate Colonel 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.
Col Nkunika cited Nyirenda and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as first and second respondents, stating that ECZ contravened Articles 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 filed in the Constitutional Court on February 21, Nyirenda disputed all the allegations leveled against him by Col Nkunika in his petition and stated that he was a successful candidate for the elections in the Lundazi Central Constituency in 2016.
He stated his qualifications, as of 2016 during the general elections namely, Grade 12 certificate of 2013, ZNS military certificate, computer course certificates, theory of music certificate and theological tutors certificate, were all certified as per instructions from ECZ.
Nyirenda added that ECZ presiding officer for Lundazi constituency George Banda received all the five certificates and he was satisfied with them according to the qualification requirements of the electoral body.
He stated that the said qualifications were categorised into two parts by ECZ, with the Grade 12 certificate placed under part A whilst the rest of his qualifications fell under part B recorded on the Electoral Commission of Zambia forms.
Nyirenda further stated that ECZ returned his Grade 12 certificate which was categorised under part A, on account that his other qualifications categorised under part B were enough.
“I was allowed to contest for elections because ECZ was satisfied with my qualifications. At the end of my nomination, ECZ presiding officer, Mr George Banda, declared my nomination papers valid together with three other candidates who participated and he only disqualified the PF candidate Dr John Phiri for coming late during nominations,” he stated.
“All my five certificates I submitted to ECZ during nominations are also supported by the Kabwe High Court judgment between Sibongile and ECZ and the Attorney General which clarified the minimum grade 12 academic certificate and its equivalent.”
Nyirenda further stated that in 2018, his tertiary qualifications were upgraded to a degree level and in 2019, his school academic qualifications were upgraded to four subjects which is English, Biology, Religious Education and Civic Education.
He argued that he did not violate any provision of the law contrary to the allegations by Col Nkunika.
“The petitioner (Col Nkunika) deliberately raised Constitutional matters in his petition after realising that he was out of time in which to challenge my election as member of parliament of Lundazi Central. This is not a proper case in which an election petition can be entertained by this court,” stated Nyirenda.