UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) has insisted that the petition in which a Livingstone magistrate is seeking an order that the Registrar of Societies deregisters all political parties which have not practiced democracy within their parties through regular elections should be thrown out for lack of merit.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has reserved its ruling to September 30, 2020 on the said application by UPND.
In this matter, Livingstone magistrate Benjamin Mwelwa has petitioned the Court seeking an order and declaration that any political party which was registered and in existence as of January 5, 2016 and which has not promoted and practiced democracy through regular, free and fair elections, within its political party, has breached article 60(2)(d) of the Constitution (Amendment) Act no. 2 of 2016 and therefore such a political party ceased to exist as a political party in Zambia on January 4, 2017.
He wants an order that the Registrar of Societies deregisters all political parties for having ceased to exist as political parties in Zambia on January 4, 2017 and since violated article 60(2)(d) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act no.2 of 2016 and section 18(1) and (2) Act no.1 of 2016.
Mwelwa cited Attorney General, Likando Kalaluka and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as the respondents in the matter.
The court joined Stephen Katuka in his capacity as UPND Secretary General, Elizabeth Chitika in her capacity as MMD national secretary and Davies Mwila in his capacity as PF Secretary General as interested parties to the petition after they applied for joinder.
After being joined to the petition, UPND through its Secretary General, had asked the court to dismiss the petition for want of jurisdiction as it did not disclose any violation of the Constitution.
Katuka stated that magistrate Mwelwa’s petition did not meet the requirements for a matter that should be brought before the Constitutional Court.
He argued that the petition was founded on an act of Parliament, adding that the petition was supposed to be taken before the High Court.
Magistrate Mwelwa however, opposed Katuka’s summons to have his petition dismissed, arguing that his petition met all the requirements for the actions to be brought before the Constitutional Court.
And when the matter came up for hearing before Constitutional Court judges, Annie Sitali, Enock Mulembe and professor Margaret Munalula, Tuesday, a lawyer representing UPND, Mulambo Haimbe insisted that the petition was anchored on an Act of Parliament rather than the Constitution and falls outside the matters that the court had jurisdiction over, under Article 128 of the Constitution.
He further submitted that the petition did not disclose the provisions of the Constitution that had been breached or which the petitioner sought interpretation on.
“The petition contains general allegations that lacks specific Constitution provisions that are alleged to have been breached,” Haimbe said.
He said the entire petition was anchored on an allegation that as at January 4, 2017 all political parties in Zambia ceased to exist, which allegation was drawn from the petitioner’s interpretation under Order 18 of the Constitution Act no.1 of 2016.
Haimbe added that the reliefs sought by the petitioner were premised on erroneous allegations anchored on the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No.1 of 2016.
“This action is improperly before you (court) as no reasonable cause of action is disclosed. The matter is frivolous and vexatious and abuse of the court in terms of the principles enshrined in Order 18 Rule 19 (10) of the white book,” he said.
ECZ and MMD adopted UPND’s submissions through their legal representatives.
But in response, magistrate Mwelwa argued that his petition was not asking the court to interpret any provision of the law but it was alleging that Article 60(2)(d) of the Constitution had been breached.
He added that the court had the jurisdiction to hear how Article 60 had been breached.
Magistrate Mwelwa said the application by UPND lacked merit as it served the purpose of wasting the Court’s time and increasing the cost of the petition.
He therefore urged the court to dismiss the application by UPND.
The court reserved ruling on the said application to September 30, 2020.