THE Constitutional Court has ruled that prisoners in Zambia should be allowed to vote.
This is in a matter in which the petitioner, Godfrey Malembeka, who is Prisons Care and Counseling Association executive director, asked the court to allow prisoners to vote as it was a human right.
Malembeka had contended that the continued denial of the right to vote for persons awaiting trial whilst in custody was contrary to the presumption of innocence to which they were entitled under Article 18 (2) (a) of the Constitution and that it was discriminatory.
He had indicated that Zambia was a progressive democracy and part of the global community of progressive democracies that allowed pre-trial remandees and convicts to vote and that Zambia needed to be part of such progressive states in order to enhance the enjoyment of human rights and freedoms.
According to a judgment delivered by judges Annie Sitali and Margaret Munalula, the right to vote was one of the fundamental civil and political rights accorded to citizens and enshrined in national constitutions.
“We declare that the persons in lawful custody and those whose freedom of movement is restricted under a written law are entitled to vote in future elections,” the court said.
The judges agreed with the petitioner that Sections 9 (1) (e) and 47 of the Electoral Process Act contravene Article 46 of the Constitution as amended.
“As the petition raised important constitutional issues and is public interest litigation, we order that each party will bear their own costs,” stated the Constitutional Court.