Lusaka Lawyer Makebi Zulu says Article 52 of the Constitution needs to be amended.

On Monday, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) cancelled the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election following the withdrawal of the United Progressive Party candidate Francis Libanda from the race in accordance with Article 52 of the Constitution.

Commenting on this in an interview, Zulu said Bill 10 could have cured this lacuna.

“This is one of the things that need to be looked at and the need to amend the Constitution because it was one of the things that was proposed to be amended when it came to the Constitutional Amendment Bill 10 of 2019. Those that care to read will notice that it was intended that at the preliminary stage, it is very important to avoid such as resignations because they tend to be a cost. Look at the great cost that the Commission has been put at to re-do the ballot papers. And there should also be a time limit to say ‘okay, perhaps this period before the election you can’t opt for resigning’. Even when you do, it should not affect anything,” he said.

“If the resignation was induced, it is very unfair and not good for our democracy.”

He someone needed to move an amendment of the constitution.

“Obviously, someone has to move an amendment of the Constitution. We should not be short sighted or partisan in our approach to such things. The Constitution is for everyone, it binds everyone, it doesn’t matter the political party you belong to. It is very important that we look at such things and see whether they serve the best interest of the country and deal with them,” said Makebi.

Announcing the cancellation, Monday, ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said Libanda invoked the provisions of article 52 in his resignation.

“I wish to advise that a withdrawal is clearly only permitted before the close of the nominations as provided for under section 31 (2) of the electoral process act. However, where a candidate has sought to invoke the provision of article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution, the law requires the cancellation of elections and this calls for fresh nominations for eligible candidates. In this case, Mr Libanda in his letter dated 10th January 2022, has invoked the provision of article 52 of the constitution of Zambia aforesaid,” said Nshindano.

“Given that this is a Constitution provision, the Commission is bound to comply without any discretion to do otherwise. In this regard, the Commission hereby cancels the election for Kabwata Parliamentary by-election pursuant to the said article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution. And we will be conducting fresh nominations for Kabwata Constituency on dates to be advised once the statutory instrument has been finalised. This therefore means that all campaign related activities for Kabwata Constituency have been canceled and will only commence on the date of fresh nominations.”