CHAPTER One Foundation has applied to amend its application for judicial review against ZICTA to include a declaration which states that ‘the arbitrary deprivation of internet access was illegal, procedurally improper and unreasonable’.
The Lusaka High Court had granted Chapter One Foundation leave to commence judicial review after they challenged ZICTA’s decision to order all mobile service providers to cease providing internet services as well as blocking access to WhatsApp and Facebook across the country.
According to an ex parte order for leave to apply for judicial review signed by the Lusaka High Court, the court stayed the decision pending determination of the matter.
“Upon hearing counsel for the applicant and upon reading the affidavit verifying facts deposed to by Sara Hlupikile Longwe it is hereby ordered that the applicant (Chapter One Foundation) be at liberty to commence judicial review proceedings against the respondent (ZICTA) and further that the decision dated 12th August 2021 to block access to WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and messenger services in the entire country and ordering all mobile service providers to cease providing internet services be stayed pending determination of the matter and that each party shall bear their own costs,” read the ex-parte order.
And according to the affidavit in support of summons for an order for leave to amend the notice of application for judicial review, COF director Susan Matale stated that on August 13, the applicant sought leave of the Court to commence judicial review over a decision by ZICTA to shut down or block access to all social media platforms across all internet service providers.
Rev Matale stated that ZICTA was subsequently served with the said order and that following service, access to the aforementioned social media platforms was restored.
She stated that in order to prevent the action from being repeated, it will be necessary to seek an additional remedy in the form of a declaration which states that the arbitrary deprivation of internet access was illegal, procedurally improper and unreasonable.
“That as a result, the applicant seeks the leave of the court to amend the remedies sought to address all issues and obtain all possible remedies,” they stated.
Rev Matale stated that the notice of application for judicial review misstates the decision on which the action is based as a decision directing that internet services be blocked or shut down and does not properly convey the decision as rightly stated in the application.
She stated that as a result of the mistake, the Foundation wishes to amend the notice of application for leave to apply for judicial review in order to rectify the error.
She further stated that the amendments will not prejudice the respondent but will allow for a full determination of the issues raised.