THE Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has argued that Musicians Chama Fumba, popularly known as Pilato, Maiko Zulu, Brian Bwembya and others are prematurely before the Lusaka High Court as the commission is guided by the Electoral Process Act in carrying out the voter registration exercise.
ECZ adds that the law provides for a redress mechanism for persons aggrieved with the registration process.
The commission has therefore urged the Lusaka High Court not to grant the three musicians and two youths leave to commence Judicial review, submitting that their seeks to stay ECZ’s mandate to register voters and compile a register of voters as is enshrined under the Constitution and the Electoral Process Act.
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 ECZ to compel duly registered voters to present themselves before registration officers for verification under a new register for the 2021 general elections.
Pilato, Maiko, Bwembya, aka B Flow and two youths – Nawa Sitali and Muleta Kapatiso – on behalf of the people, 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.
They 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.
They further want if leave was granted, hearing of the Judicial Review application should be expedited and that it should operate as a stay of ECZ’s decision which requires already registered voters to present themselves before a registration officer again or be precluded or prevented from voting in the 2021 general elections.
However, in an affidavit in opposition to notice of application for leave to apply for judicial review, ECZ through, its chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano, argued that this was not a suitable matter for the court to exercise its discretion to grant the applicants leave for judicial review and stay the alleged impugned decisions.
“I verily believe that the applicants are prematurely before this honourable court as the respondent (ECZ) is guided by the Electoral Process Act in carrying out the voter registration exercise and the law provides for a redress mechanism for persons aggrieved with the registration process,” he stated.
“I’m further advised by the respondent’s advocates and I verily believe that the applicants action herein seeks to stay ECZ’s mandate to register voters and compile a register of voters as is enshrined under the Constitution of Zambia and the Electoral Process Act.”
Nshindano stated that the applicants had failed or neglected to serve the originating process on ECZ in order to allow them to prepare for inter parte hearing.
He stated that ECZ in the performance of it’s functions was guided by relevant electoral laws which include inter alia the Constitution of Zambia and the Electoral Process Act.
Nshindano stated that the process of registration of voters was prescribed under the Electoral Process Act and Regulations promulgated under the said Act.
He stated that contrary to the allegations by the applicants, the registration of voters and the prescription of the cut off dates with respect to the registration of voters and the compilation of the register of voters was prescribed under the Electoral Process Act.
Nshindano stated that there was a similar matter pending hearing before the Constitution Court under cause no. 2020/CCZ/0010 and also another similar matter which was on all fours with the intended application, pending continued hearing before High Court judge Mwila Chitabo.