By MacDonald Chipenzi
CHARITY LUMPA: SELF-WITHDRAWN LUSAKA CENTRAL INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE. IS THE CANCELLATION AND CALL FOR FRESH NOMINATIONS FOR LUSAKA CENTRAL PARLIAMENTARY SEAT LEGAL?
During the just ended nomination process of candidates by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), Charity Lumpa, upon not being adopted by her political party, the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), resigned and successfuly FILED IN and duly nominated by ECZ as an independent candidate for Lusaka central parliamentary Constituency.
Later, she tendered her intentions to withdraw from the race for Lusaka central parliamentary seat which withdrawal was gladly accepted by ECZ which later called for the holding of fresh nomination for Lusaka Central parliamentary Constituency seat in accordance with Article 52(6) of the republican Constitution.
It must be noted that her nomination was done in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Constitution and Section 31 of the Electoral Act
Electoral Process Act No 35 of 2016 sectiobln 31(1) states that
*A person who applies to be a candidate for election in any, constituency shall lodge with the returning officer for that constituency that person’s nomination paper and an affidavit in the prescribed manner and form*
Charity Lumpa withdrew her candidature after the nomination period expired which is contrary to provision of section 31(2) which guides when a duly nominated candidate should withdraw from the race.
This is what section 31(2) guides candidates at parliamentary level;
*A nomination submitted under subsection (1) *may be withdrawn at any time, before the expiry of the period appointed for lodging nomination papers* in respect of the constituency concerned, if the candidate delivers to the returning officer a written
notice to that effect.*
Therefore, from the provision of the above cited subsection of the law, the ECZ has power to accept withdrawals from candidates done/delivered within the period for lodgement of nominations.
ECZ seems to have no legal powers to accept withdrawals done/delivered outside the timeframe for nominations.
Now, if ECZ accepted the withdrawal papers or letter delivered by Charity Lumpa outside the nomination period, which section of the law was applied?
The question which ECZ must answer, therefore, is, did it accept Charity Lumpa’s withdrawal letter from the parliamentary race for Lusaka Central after the nomination period expired or not?
If the answer is yes, then, let ECZ tell the nation which legal powers it used to accept such a withdrawal done after the expiry of the lodgement of nominations period as guided by section 31 (2).
This section only gives ECZ powers to accept withdrawals from candidates when such withdrawal is done/delivered within the nomination period!
To this end and in my view, Charity Lumpa remains the validly and duly nominated independent candidate for Lusaka central parliamentary Constituency seat and her withdrawal letter is null and void.
It goes without argument that the cancellation of the Election by ECZ for Lusaka Central parliamentary seat and the call for fresh nominations could be illegal.