Conflict resolution

POLITICIANS aggrieved by perceived malpractices in the filing in of nomination papers at presidential level should take such matters to the Constitutional court so that the cases can be resolved there rather than calling on the Electoral Commission of Zambia to perform duties outside its jurisdiction.

The case in point is that of UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s running mate Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba whose qualifications are being doubted by some citizens.

The doubting Thomases want Mr Mwamba to produce the academic qualification he could have used as basis for his admission to study for his Advanced Diploma in Finance and Investment.

They suspect the document could have been a forgery which if proven so could lead to the cancellation of the Advanced diploma.

Such an outcome can lead to Mr Mwamba and Mr Hichilema being disqualified from the presidential race.

But this can only be done if the aggrieved petitioned the Constitutional Court and proved their case.

The Electoral Commission is a referee in elections and should not be seen to be the one disqualifying candidates on suspicions of having cheated on qualifications.

If the ECZ took such a route, such a decision has the potential of plunging the country into chaos as the electoral body would easily be accused of conniving with another political party to disadvantage the perceived erring party or candidate.

This is the reason why the greatest arbiter in the land has remained the courts of law with trained men and women in legal conflict resolution.

Therefore, if there is suspicion of cheating on any of the required qualifications on the part of presidential candidates and their running mates, the right procedure is for the aggrieved to file a petition with evidence before the Constitutional Court.

The courts would mostly arrive at a just and fair judgement to clear the air or confirm the allegations.

Anything short of this can only be considered malicious propaganda aimed at defaming an opponent.

With the coming into force of the amended Constitution, Zambians should realise that our democracy, as regards to scrutiny of candidates, has been strengthened.

 Presidential candidates and their running mates can be scrutinised immediately after the filing in of nomination papers by going to the Constitutional Court or after they are declared winners after the polls.

It is important for Zambians to strengthen their democracy by utilising such institutions of governance enshrined in the amended Constitution.

We urge our politicians to study the amended Constitution or consult their lawyers so that they are fully armed with knowledge about steps to take when they are aggrieved or suspect the breach of the Constitution in the electoral process.