VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott has blocked Patriotic Front (PF) president Edgar Lungu from filing in his nomination on Saturday in a move that has infuriated the party’s Central Committee and the general membership.
In an attempt to interfere in judicial independence and obvious contempt of court, Dr Scott has directed Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Irene Mambilima to reject Mr Lungu’s nomination papers for the presidential election next month.
But Mr Lungu has asked Justice Chibesakunda and Justice Mambilima to ignore Dr Scott’s letter, because it did not have the blessings of the party president or the Central Committee.
Mr Lungu has described Dr Scott’s conduct as gross indiscipline because he (Lungu) Central Committee were not consulted before the letter purporting to give directives to the Supreme Court and ECZ was written.
Mr Lungu, who is the PF president, said Justice Chibesakunda as the returning officer of the ECZ could not and should not be receiving instructions or directives from anyone other than the electoral commission.
“Your office as the Returning Officer of this independent Electoral Commission of Zambia, cannot, will not and must not be receiving instructions or directives from anyone else other than the electoral commission. Therefore, the letter to yourself by Dr Scott must be ignored in totality as it has no authority or blessings of the president, or the Central Committee and can best be described as an act of gross indiscipline,” Mr Lungu said.
Mr Lungu said as far as the PF was concerned, the Lusaka High Court had made a consent judgment which declared that the Defence and Justice minister was duly and legally elected president of PF at the extra 0rdinary conference.
He stated that the Judge Mungeni Mulenga consent judgment had not been set aside and had not been appealed against, therefore remains valid and binding.
“Clearly by this action, Dr Scott would have been cited for contempt of court save for article 43 which provides him with legal immunity during the time he is acting as President of the Republic of Zambia. We wish to state that there is no court process and no court order to bar the Patriotic Front presidential candidate from filing its nominations before your good office as agreed by the Electoral Commission of Zambia,” Mr Lungu said.
But in his terse letter addressed to Justice Chibesakunda and copied to Justice Mambilima, Dr Scott has directed Justice Chibesakunda not to accept nomination from Mr Lungu until after the conclusion of the current legal battles between the ruling party’s candidate and Matero Member of Parliament Miles Sampa.
Dr Scott said the legal process that would assist the ruling party finalise the nomination of its candidate had not yet been exhausted and it was only legally appropriate that the Supreme Court should not entertain the nomination of Mr Lungu until after the end of the current legal process.
Acting President Dr Scott said he was committed to ensuring that the PF followed the correct procedures as outlined in the party constitution.
He stated that he was resolved that the current disagreements about the selection of the presidential candidate in the ruling party were resolved before the party could go for nominations on 20 December 2014.
“I note that the Patriotic Front is expected to nominate its candidate for the forthcoming presidential by-election on Saturday, 20th December, 2014. As you are aware, the legal process that will assist us in finalizing the nominations have not yet been exhausted.
We expect and hope that they will be finished before 20th December. Please note that any attempt to bring forward the nomination of any candidate before the end of the current legal process should not be entertained,” Dr Scott’s letter said.