THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed a matter in which UPND sued ZNBC over failure to air the party’s campaign adverts for the 2016 elections during prime-time slots.
The court threw out the matter for want of time.
In this matter, UPND secretary general Batuke Imenda dragged the national broadcaster to court over the decision by the director general of ZNBC not to air the party’s campaign advertisements during prime-time slots.
But according to a ruling on the ex-parte application for leave to apply for judicial review, Tuesday, Judge Susan Wanjelani noted that the application was made with respect to decisions that were made more than five years ago in 2016.
She noted that while the court had the jurisdiction to extend the time, there must be a good reason for doing so.
Judge Wanjelani however, added that the applicant had not advanced any reason for the delay in applying for leave to commence judicial review.
She stated that she was of the view that Imenda should have first made an application for leave to extend time to commence judicial review proceedings.
“There is no application for leave to extend time to commence judicial review proceedings before me. In the case of Zambia Revenue Authority vs T and G Transport where the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court without obtaining leave to appeal, the Supreme court held, in citing according to the English case of White V Brunton that, ‘the requirement of leave to appeal goes to the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal’,” said Judge Wanjelani.
She further stated that it was her finding that the application was incompetently before her and therefore dismissed it.
According to the notice of application for leave to apply for judicial review filed in the Lusaka High Court, the UPND were seeking an order of certiorari to remove into the High Court for the purposes of quashing the said decision of the director-general of ZNBC not to air the UPND’s campaign advertisements during prime time slots.
They were also seeking an order of mandamus to oblige the director-general of ZNBC to air the UPND’s campaign advertisements as the said rejection was devoid of any legal basis and was as such null and void ab initio.
Imenda was further praying that if leave was granted, a direction that such grant should operate as a stay of the said decision and further proceedings on the same pursuant to rule3(10) of order 53 of the supreme court rules.
Imenda stated that on May 11, 2016, UPND and ZNBC executed radio and television adverting contracts during prime time to which the adverts commenced airing on May 16, 2016.
He stated that the airing of the ‘bello’ advert was abruptly suspended on May 23, 2016 on the basis that it insinuated that the government was corrupt and that they were asked to drop the word corrupt from the said advert.
Imenda further stated that six different advertisements were rejected for various reasons including some phrases being termed as ‘a direct talk on the presidency’.
The UPND argued that ZNBC acting director general’s decisions of 20th, 25th and 27th May 2016 to reject their political campaign advertisements during the elections held on 11 August 2016 were ultra vires Articles 20 of the Constitution of Zambia.
He further argued that ZNBC had a mandate during the election campaign period to ensure that the political playing field in terms of dissemination of political campaign messages by political parties on the respondent’s platform was levelled.
Imenda further contended that the national broadcaster was arbitrarily airing the party’s advertisements outside prime-time slots despite paying for the same.