By CHINTU MALAMBO
THE Constitutional Court has ordered the State to pay costs to Livingstone Magistrate Benjamin Mwelwa for delaying to file an answer to his petition where he wants the court to deregister political parties that have not practiced democratic tenets since 2016.
This is in a matter where Mwelwa, who is also an advocate of the High Court is seeking an order to direct the Registrar of Societies to deregister all political parties that have not held party elections since 2016.
Magistrate Mwelwa is also seeking a declaration that any political party which was registered and in existence as of January 5, 2016 and which has not promoted and practiced democracy through regular, free and fair elections, within its political party, has breached article 60(2)(d) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act no. 2 of 2016 and therefore, such a political party ceased to exist as a political party in Zambia on January 4, 2017.
Mwelwa has cited Attorney General Likando Kalaluka and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as the respondents in the petition.
The UPND, PF and the MMD have joined the petition as interested parties.
Earlier, the State asked the court to allow it file its answer and affidavit in opposition, out of time.
But Mr Mwelwa had opposed the application. He wanted the court to remove the Attorney General from his petition.
In its ruling however, Constitutional Court judge Mungeni Mulenga exercised her discretion and allowed the State to file its answer and affidavit in opposition by July 24 this year or its application will stand dismissed.
The court however, condemned the State to pay costs to Mr Mwelwa.
“Having considered the circumstance of this case, I am satisfied that this is a case where discretion can be exercised and the 1st respondent condemned to costs.
“I hereby grant the 1st respondent’s application for leave to file its answer and affidavit in opposition out of time. The answer and affidavit should be filed by July 24, 2020. Failure to which the application shall stand dismissed. The costs are for the petitioner,” Judge Mulenga said.