THE Constitutional Court has thrown out a petition in which a Livingstone magistrate was seeking an order that the Registrar of Societies deregisters all political parties which have not practiced democracy within their parties through regular elections.
The court, in its ruling, found merit in UPND’s argument that the said petition did not disclose any cause of action against the State and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
In this matter, Livingstone magistrate Benjamin Mwelwa 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 wanted 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 also 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, 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.
But in a ruling delivered yesterday by Constitutional Court judge Enock Mulembe on behalf of two other judges Annie Sitali and professor Margaret Munalula, the court said the petition did not reveal sufficient details to warrant the existence of a cause of action against the Attorney General and ECZ or how they (Attorney General and ECZ) had allegedly breached Article 60(2)(d) of the Constitution and section 18 of Act No.1 of 2016 to justify the Court’s intervention.
The court however, found as unmeritorious, UPND’s argument that section 18 of the Constitution of Zambia Act No.1 of 2016 was not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court, saying that it is.
Judge Mulembe said the court was unable to decipher from the petition and supporting affidavit, the material facts constituting or making up the alleged breaches by the Attorney General and ECZ vis-a-vis Article 60(2)(d) and section 18 of Act No.1 of 2016.
“We hold the firm view that it is not sufficient to allege breach of a statutory or constitutional provision without setting out the facts, in sufficient detail, which are the basis of the claim against the respondents and entitle the petitioner to the reliefs sought,” the court said.
The court found merit in UPND’s contention that the said petition discloses no cause of action against the State and the ECZ and accordingly dismissed the petition.
“The petition is accordingly struck out and dismissed as prayed. Each party shall bear their own costs,” ruled the court.