THE matter in which Musicians Chama Fumba, popularly known as Pilato, Maiko Zulu and Brian Bwembya and others have dragged the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to the Lusaka High Court could not take off yesterday as Judge-in-charge Gertrude Chawatama is reportedly in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

The matter has been adjourned to a date to be advised.

In this matter, Pilato, Zulu, Bwembya and two others have applied for leave in the Lusaka High Court to commence Judicial Review proceedings against the decision of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to compel duly registered voters to present themselves before registration officers for verification under a new register for the 2021 general elections.

In their notice for leave to commence Judicial Review proceedings filed in the principal registry, Pilato, Maiko, Bwembya, aka B Flow and two youths – Nawa Sitali and Muleta Kapatiso – on behalf of the people, have argued that the decision by ECZ which required currently validly registered voters in terms of the law to participate in a process that amounts to re-registration of voters in a period of one month is illegal.

Pilato and others who are represented by lawyers Nchito and Nchito and Mwenye and Mwitwa Advocates have further argued that ECZ’s decision amounted to deregistering voters without notice and following laid down procedure, which was contrary to the law.

The applicants are now seeking an order quashing ECZ’s decision for being irrational, procedurally improper and illegal and an order, compelling ECZ to re-take its decision and act within the powers vested in them by the law.

Expressing displeasure about the failure of the case to take off in a Facebook post, Pilato suggested that another judge takes up the matter.

“The case did not take off today because Judge Chawatama is reportedly in quarantine. Some how this excuse for them is credible as they continue to assume that we are young and user friendly. The case was taken to the court and not to an individual judge. Therefore it is lame and insulting to say because a single judge is in quarantine then judicial processes must be stopped and wait for that particular judge to come back. The judge has not gone on vacation, she is in COVID19 quarantine and what assurance do we have that she will come back strong and fit next week? If she is not well the wheels of justice must continue. The High Court of Zambia has a number of very competent judges who can preside over these cases,” stated Pilato.

“Judge Chawatama and judge Chitabo are not the only judges at High Court. We cannot reduce the power of the court to the physical fitness of two individuals. It is our considered view that if judge Chawatama is indeed in quarantine, she should be patriotic enough to hand over the files to another judge and allow the process to start. To the people of Zambia, I would like to remind you that every regime that has existed and committed crimes against humanity, did so with the support of some people who benefited from it. The racist Apartheid regime in South Africa killed black people and committed all the crimes with support from a few churches, a few Civil Society Organisations and a few individuals. Hitler in Germany committed the crimes against humanity with the support of from some people and institutions. Today we are here and of course those that are benefiting from the collapse of this country will stand to defend the collapse. Some are doing so out of ignorance while others with the full knowledge, watch them.”