It’s sweet victory

Dora Siliya says the High Court’s decision to allow her to re-contest the Petauke parliamentary seat has given her chance to hand the PF a drubbing in the forthcoming by-election as the ruling party’s machinations to block her had come to an embarrassing end.

And UPND secretary general  Winston Chibwe has described the decision by the High Court to allow Siliya, Maxwell Mwale and Hastings Sililo to re-contest their nullified seats as a sweet victory for the entire Judiciary, opposition and the people of Zambia.

Chibwe said that the judgment was a lesson to the PF to stop using corrupt and backdoor tactics to stifle democracy in the country.

“To be honest with you, this is a rare victory for the country and a lesson to the PF to stop using backdoor and corrupt tactics to stifle democracy in the country,” he said

NAREP, in a statement, also toasted the three MPs’ legal victory saying, “This has been wrongly presented as a fight against corruption when in reality it has been nothing other than the PF adopting a ‘sore loser’ mentality”.

In her judgment delivered in Lusaka yesterday, High Court Judge Mungeni Mulenga  ordered that opposition MMD’s Siliya, and UPND’s Mwale and his party counterpart Sililo should not be barred from filing in nominations and contesting in the by-elections.

Judge Mulenga made the order in her 54-page judgment in a case where the trio sued the Attorney General Mumba Malila, the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Judiciary after it barred them from filing nominations in parliamentary by-elections.

In the matter, Siliya, Mwale and Sililo had applied for judicial review following the decision by the ECZ to stop them from filing nominations in Petauke, Malambo and Mulobezi constituencies respectively.

Justice Mulenga said the decision by ECZ was null and void as it did not meet the specification of the law.

She said that there was no report from the High Court suggesting that the three applicants namely Siliya, Mwale and Sililo were guilty of corruption and should therefore not participate in the election.

“That there was no report of guilty from  the High Court in respect of all the three applicants as required by the law (section 22 (b) and 104 (6)  of  the Electoral Act) and that the Judiciary press statement by the public relations officer and the letter  by Acting  Registrar which was ipssima verba , both opinion on section 104 (6)  of  the Act have no legal basis or force  whatsoever and were also not  in compliance with the act and did not amount to a report as envisaged by section 22 and 104 of the act,” she said.

Justice Mulenga said that the Judiciary’s opinion on the effect of the Supreme Court judgment had no legal force as it was not a judicial pronouncement of any court.

She said that the decision by ECZ to act on the opinion of the Judiciary and not at law contravened the clear provisions of section 22 and 104 (6) of the act and was therefore illegal, procedurally improper and unreasonable.

“The applicants have proved their case and enter judgment in their favour; the reliefs sought are order of certiorari, orders of prohibitation and declarations.  The applicants seek for orders to quash the decision of the Judiciary public relations officer made by way of press release on August 8, 2013 and the decision of acting Registrar in a letter dated August 9, 2013 addressed to ECZ.

She said that, “I hereby grant an order to remove into this court for the purpose of quashing the decision of the director of elections at ECZ disqualifying the three applicants from filing their respective nominations in the by-elections to be held in Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi parliamentary by-election, I forthwith quash the said decision as prayed.

Further an order of mandamus shall issue forthwith compelling ECZ to perform its statutory functions under article 66 of the Constitution and section 33 of the Electoral Act and to accept the nominations from Siliya, Mwale and Sililo on the dates to be appointed for filing nominations for the concerned three parliamentary constituencies.”

She further ordered that, “for avoidance of doubt it is further still ordered that ECZ is prohibited from barring Siliya, Mwale and Sililo from filling their nomination papers on the nomination dates to be appointed for Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi constituencies respectively. Costs follow the events and are to be taxed in default of agreement.”