LUSAKA High Court Justice Mwila Chitabo has dismissed a UPND application to commence court proceedings in a presidential petition before the determination of the preliminary issues raised for the removal of President Edgar Lungu and Vice President Inonge Wina as first and second respondents respectively.
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and his running mate Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba had asked the High Court to restrain of the Chief Justice Irene Mambilima and her deputy Mr Justice Marvin Mwanamwambwa from swearing in President Lungu and Vice President Wina before the determination of the petition against the outcome of the August 11 general election.
Mr Hichilema sought judicial hearing over the decision by the Constitutional Court to dismiss another petition against the declaration of President Lungu and Vice President Wina as winners of the election. The petition was subsequently thrown out for want of prosecution after the expiry of the 14 days required for the execution of such a matter.
Judge Chitabo said there was no way that the main matter could be heard before the hearing and determination of all preliminary issues that have arisen.
In throwing out the application, Judge Chitabo said it would be clumsy of the court to hear evidence in the substantive matter before the hearing and determination of the preliminaries, whose parties could later be discovered to have been irrelevant to the court process.
Earlier, Mr Hakainde’s lawyer, John Sangwa, SC, had told the court that they were ready to proceed on the matter to address preliminary issues raised in the matter, but the Attorney General, represented by Mr Joe Simachela, argued that since neither the Attorney General nor the Solicitor General were before court, he could not argue the case on their behalf.
Mr Simachela added that the State was also not privy to the contents of an application filed on Friday in opposition to the misjoinder application before court.
He charged that the rules of the court were clear on applications; that they must be served not less than two days before the date of hearing to allow for responses, but that “I only had sight of the arguments this morning, and they are quite lengthy”.
The Constitutional Court led by President Justice Hildah Chibomba threw out the UPND petition to challenge the re-election of Presidential Lungu and his running mate as the ultimate winners after they polled a majority vote of over 50.35 percent above the 50 percent-plus-one threshold.
Mr Hichilema had petitioned against President Lungu and his running mate as first and second respondents, alongside the Electoral Commission of Zambia as the third respondents respectively.
Others were Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as 4th and Chief Justice and her deputy as 5th and 6th including the Constitutional Court as 7 th respondents in the matter.
Mr Hichilema and Mr Mwamba argued that the Constitutional Court failed to allow for fair justice in the manner the petition was conducted; that 14 days was not enough time for the delivery of a fair trial.