THE SUSPENSION OF POLITICAL RALLIES BY ECZ IS LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL – HIGH COURT
NDOLA – 10/06/21
The Ndola High Court has granted UPND secretary-general Batuke Imenda leave to apply for judicial review challenging the failure by the Electoral Commission of Zambia to prescribe the amount of airtime allocated to participating political parties on public television and radio media platforms.
The High Court has however refused to grant Mr Imenda leave to commence judicial review on the decision by the ECZ to ban political rallies saying the the Elections body acted within its constitutional mandate.
Making her ruling today,High Court judge Mary Mulanda said the prescription of airtime to all participating political parties is highly necessary to enable parties including independents to have equal campaign opportunities in the run upto to the August General elections.
And on the banning of campaign rallies,Judge Mulanda relied on Article 229 of the Republican Constitution amendment number 2 of 2016 which provides under sub -article 2(e) that the ECZ shall regulate the conduct of voters and candidates.
She further relied on paragraph 3(1)(f) of the Electoral Code of conduct which confers a duty on the ECZ to ensure that a campaign meeting or rally which is duly organised by a registered by a political party is not disrupted or arbitrary prohibited.
She said the decision by the commission to ban the rallies in view of the surge in the pandemic in the country was not arbitrary as the country has been on Alert State since March 2020 describing the decision as having been made to safeguard the lives of people and was in the best interest of the country and its people.
Judge Mulanda added that campaigns have been allowed to go ahead with parties advised to use appropriate campaign strategies such mobile public address system,distribution of flyers and other political party materials with minimal or no contact with the crowds.
Each party to bear own costs.
Mr Imenda acting in his capacity as UPND Secretary-general applied for leave to seek the relief of the court to declare the decision by the ECZ to ban political party rallies ahead of the August 12th General elections illegal as well as compelling the commission to prescribe the amount of airtime given to all participating political parties and independents on public Electronic and Print Media.
Mr.Imenda was represented by Counsel Marshal Mucheende of M associates.
Leave to appeal has further been granted.
(C) UPND MEDIA TEAM