By Agness Changala-Katongo

THE Lusaka High Court has thrown out an application by the UPND and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to amend its originating summons in a matter they have sued the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and PF secretary general Davies Mwila over the Chilubi by-election.

Lusaka High Court ourt judge in charge Getrude Chawatama said in her ruling recently that answers to the questions to be determined were clearly stated in the Electoral Process Act and the Regulations and declarations would indeed serve no purpose.

She added that with the workload that the judiciary had, it was not the right time to engage in academic exercises.

This is in a matter where UPND and NDC have sought leave of the court to amend the originating summons saying the proposed amendments had been necessitated by the change in the circumstances under which the original matter was taken to court as the Chilubi by-election had already taken place.

The secretary generals of both parties, Steven Katuka and Bridget Atanga, citing ECZ and Mwila as first and second respondents respectively, had sought among other reliefs, an order of interim injunction to restrain the ECZ from permitting the holding of the Chilubi by-election.

The two also wanted an order of mandatory injunction directing ECZ to postpone the Chilubi by-election and to disqualify PF from further participation in the by-election.

But in an amended originating summon, Katuka and Atanga sought a declaration that ECZ may be compelled by the court in circumstances where the court considers it necessary on the evidence before it, to take such steps as the court may direct to secure a free and fair election, including but not limited to ECZ being compelled to exercise the powers conferred upon it by statue which enable it to conduct, manage, supervise and control elections in a fair and impartial manner.

They wanted the court to determine whether or not a party aggrieved by the conduct of an election by ECZ can compel the commission to execute its functions pursuant to the provisions of the law that place a duty on ECZ to conduct free and fair elections and, in the event that the ECZ blatantly violates or breaches its statutory duty prior to the poll being undertaken, whether or not an aggrieved party can seek relief from the court so as to secure a free and fair election.

They further asked the court to determine whether or not ECZ could be compelled to postpone an election in circumstances where the Court finds that there has been a clear violation of the relevant provisions of the law governing the conduct of elections and takes the view that a free and fair election cannot be held in those circumstances.

But in her ruling judge Chawatama said the court frowned upon being drawn into academic exercise as the answers to the questions to be determined were clearly stated in the Electoral Process Act and the Regulations and declarations would indeed serve no purpose.

Judge Chawatama said she had perused the proposed originating summons and did not really see how declarations to the remainder of the questions would execute the declarations even if they were made in their favor.

“While I appreciated the great effort counsel had made in trying to salvage this case, however, given the workload that our courts are currently battling with I don’t think this is the right time to engage in academic exercises. In view of the foregoing, the application to amend the originating process is dismissed. Each party to bear its own costs,” judge Chawatama staid. -DR

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