Set Up Constitutional Court, Says Petitioner

A PETITIONER has called for the establishment of a Constitutional Court to handle all election petitions within a period of two weeks before announcing election results.

George Kateka of Chongwe said the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should not declare winners, even in the presidential election, for two weeks to allow allegations of electoral malpractices to be resolved through an independent Constitutional Court.

Mr Kateka made the submission before the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission in Lusaka yesterday.

He also submitted that Parliament should stick to the 90 days of appointing an MP in an event of death, resignation or any other form of vacating a seat to avoid depriving the electorate of development.

He said the Constitutional Court could concentrate on the electoral allegations and in turn avoid delaying such cases as was the current scenario, where matters had dragged on, in some instances up to even more than five years in court.

“The reason for this proposed court is to ensure that once pronounced as duly elected, it will not disrupt any progress in terms of development because of prolonged court sessions, which are expensive,” Mr Kateka said.

When asked whether the Constitutional Court should be the first and last to handle such cases without any appeals, Mr Kateka responded in the affirmative, saying MPs and others would have been educated on the arrangement.

Bright Tembo submitted that sitting presidents should also not be allowed to appoint MPs from other political parties to serve in Government because this brought about differences and promoted by-elections.

Mr Tembo said poaching of MPs from other political parties could be used to promote instability in the political arena and erode the electorates’ trust, especially those who voted on party lines.

“MPs should also not be allowed to join other political parties. Let them stay in their political parties they were voted in until the expiry of their term to avoid political prostitution which has been encouraged in the past years. I recommend that a certain close of the law be established,” he said.

Samuel Kasankha submitted that there was need to have local court officials monitored because they had a tendency of asking for bribes and sex from litigants who wanted the court cases to go in their favour.

“I witnessed one case of a lady who wanted her divorce case to go in her favour but when court officials asked for a bribe, she said she did not have and was asked to have sex with him if she wanted a judgment in her favour. This is depressing and should be stopped,” Mr Kasankha said.

He also submitted that there was need for adequate funding to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to allow it to recruit more employees and effectively discharge human rights duties, as funding had been a major hindrance.

Mr Kasankha said the country needed to have an independent institution to handle all human rights complaints and not the police because they were the perpetrators of human rights violations.

Lawrence Mwanza appealed to the Director of Public Prosecutions chambers to speed up the process of prosecuting court cases.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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