By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
THE Constitutional Court has set March 9, 2022, as date of judgement in a matter where the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has petitioned it to interpret the provisions used by the Speaker, Nelly Mutti, to expel from the House nine PF MPs whose seats was nullified by the High Court.
On December 7, 2021, Ms Mutti sent away Nine Patriotic Front (PF) Members of Parliament whose elections results was nullified and had appealed to the Concourt challenging the High Court’s judgements.
The nine MPs are Bowman Lusambo (Kabushi ), Joseph Malanji (Kwacha) , Mutotwe Kafwaya (Lunte), Sibongile Mwamba (Kasama Central), Luka Simumba(Nakonde), Allan Banda (Chimwemwe), Taulo Chewe (Lubasenshi), Kalalwe Mukosa(Chinsali) and Christopher Chibuye (Mkushi North).
LAZ in its petition seeks the Court to interpret the provisions of Articles 72 (h) and 73 (1) (2) and (4) of the Constitution of Zambia. The association cited the Attorney General as respondent in the petition. When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, LAZ president Abyud Shonga said that an interpretation to the provisions used by the speaker would put an end to the debate of whether an MP whose seat has been nullified following an election petition may lawfully remain in the House pending appeal to the Concourt. Mr Shonga reiterated that the association’s involvement in the matter was not to take sides but because it is of public interest.
However, Solicitor General Marshal Muchende argued that the effect of the nullification by the High Court was to create a vacancy in the National Assembly, and that if there is no appeal, the Speaker can communicate to ECZ for fresh elections.
Mr Muchende stated that an appeal to the Concourt does not operate as a stay, therefore, the affected MPs should have obtained stay from the High Court.
He contended that an MP whose seat had been declared null and void cannot continue to hold that seat in the absence of a stay ,unless if the high court that nullified the seat grants the stay.
Meanwhile, the ConCourt has reserved February 15, 2022 , as the date on which it will rule over an application by Mr Malanji on its jurisdiction to hear a petition by Governance Elections Advocacy Research Services Initiative Zambia Limited (GEARS) when there is an appeal against the High Court’s decision to nullify the seats .
GEARS , seeks a declaration that the nine having been declared by the High Court as not duly elected MPs , by attending sessions of the National Assembly and participating in Parliamentary business breached the constitution and the Electoral Process Act.