THE Court of Appeal has upheld the ruling of the Lusaka High Court which quashed the decision by the Registrar of Societies to deregister Harry Kalaba’s Democratic Party (DP).
The State had appealed against this decision on four grounds, but the Court of Appeal threw out the appeal, Monday, further deciding that the public authorities such as the Registrar of societies must never act wantonly and arbitrarily but must act proportionately and respect the rights of citizens .
Court of Appeal judge, Florence Lengalenga on behalf of two other judges upheld the decision of the High Court, saying the lower court was in order when it quashed the decision by Registrar of Societies to deregister the Democratic Party.
Judge Lengalenga has further dismissed all grounds of appeal by the State. The decision of the court of appeal means that the high court decision that directed that the duplicate certificate be printed and given to the party has been confirmed.
In 2018, Lusaka High Court Judge Sharon Newa quashed the decision by the Registrar of Societies to deregister Democratic Party, saying their decision was not only illegal but irrational, unreasonable and procedurally improper.
Judge Newa further directed the said Registrar of Societies to issue the party with a duplicate certificate of registration.
This was the matter in which the Democratic Party, through its national secretary Precious Ntambu, commenced judicial review proceedings challenging the registrar’s decision to cancel registration of the party, arguing that it was illegal.
The Registrar deregistered DP on June 6, 2018, on ground that it had not addressed the issue of why it should not be cancelled.
But delivering judgement, Justice Sharon Newa said the decision to cancel the registration of the party was illegal, irrational and procedurally improper.
“In this case, not only was the Registrar of Societies decision to cancel the registration of the applicant as a political party illegal, it was also irrational, unreasonable and procedurally improper and I declare so, and the applicant succeeds. I accordingly quash the registrar’s decision and direct the registrar of societies to issue the Democratic Party with a duplicate certificate of registration. The applicant is also awarded costs to be taxed in default of agreement, leave to apply is granted,” she had ruled.
And commenting on the decision by the Court of Appeal, DP Spokesperson Judith Kabemba said the Court’s ruling meant that the party was legally registered, adding that they shall continue preparing for next year’s general elections.
“This means that Democratic party is legally registered party and is therefore back with full force on the Registrar of Societies’ register to form government come 2021. This will go in history that those in leadership should never act by the influence of those in power. It is a lesson to madam [Thandiwe] Mhende, the chief Registrar of Societies. As DP we shall continue preparing for 2021 elections especially that we have beaten PF pants down,” said Kabemba.