By Lulumbi Nakazwe
CHARLOTTE Scott says she is going to challenge the Constitutional Court judge Enock Mulembe’s decision to dismiss Margaret Mwanakatwe’s application for stay but allow her to continue serving as member of parliament for Lusaka Central Constituency.
The Constitutional Court has dismissed Mwanakatwe’s application for a stay execution of the nullification of her Lusaka Central seat, saying the application was irrelevant in view of her appeal.
In a ruling delivered on Wednesday, judge Mulembe said he saw no need to entertain Mwanakatwe’s application for a stay following Lusaka High Court judge Mwiinde Siavwapa’s refusal to stay execution of his judgment in which he nullified her seat on grounds of corruption, among others.
“My considered view is that I see no need to entertain this application for stay any further when, by operation of law and in terms of the Constitution, it is clear when a seat becomes vacant. One of those instances is when the Constitutional Court makes a final determination on a seat that has been nullified,” judge Mulembe said.
“In the premises, I find this application for stay of execution of the judgment of the court below irrelevant because when there is an appeal, the law as per constitutional provisions, has stated that the seat only becomes vacant after the final determination of the Constitutional Court.”
He said Article 72 (2) of the Constitution addressed instances when the office of member of parliament becomes vacant.
Judge Mulembe urged the parties to focus on preparing for the hearing of the appeal so that the court could have the opportunity to bring the matter to a final determination.
But in an interview yesterday, Charlotte, who successfully petitioned Mwanakatwe’s election, said the Constitutional Court’s decision was unfair.
“We are still going through it. The lawyers and ourselves are discussing challenging yesterday’s ruling. We are going to challenge it to the full bench. This development makes me very sad because we have had very decent courts that we trusted and I don’t like a situation where public trust is lost,” Charlotte said.
“I hope that in the end, we will find a right solution for those people of Lusaka Central so that they can get their duly elected MP. If we continue with this delay, then that is not going to be fair. It does not inspire confidence when anybody with a court case appears not to respect the status of that court case. And as I understand it, Margaret Mwanakatwe is no longer supposed to be sitting in Parliament and as far as I am concerned, that [her continued stay in office] is against the law.”
She said it was sad that there were some citizens who felt they were above the law.
“I am concerned if anybody feels they are above taking notice of the court order. I hope she revises that position. It’s frustrating that the process is taking time. People of Lusaka Central are entitled to have a duly elected MP and as at now, they don’t have. They have kind of a contested position and if the petition is good, we need to go ahead and have a by-election,” said Charlotte.