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ConCourt dismisses ZANASU’s petition against ban on student unionism at UNZA

THE Constitutional Court has dismissed for want of jurisdiction a petition in which the Zambia National Students Union was challenging the decision by higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo’s to suspend union activities at the University of Zambia and Mulungushi University. In a petition filed by the union secretary general Wickson Mwenya, the students were seeking an order declaring that Prof Luo’s actions were illegal, unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

Mwenya, who also cited the Attorney General, stated that Prof Luo also threatened to ban students’ union activities. Ruling on whether the Constitutional Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter, judge Palan Mulonda said Article 28 of the Constitution was clear in so far as enforcing rights and freedoms under the Bill of Rights was concerned.

“I, therefore, dismiss this petition for want of jurisdiction and as it is a proper matter for the High Court’s constitutional jurisdiction. Each party will bear it’s own costs,” ruled judge Mulonda.

Mwenya in his petition had indicated that Prof Luo’s action amounted to a denial and suppression of the students’ mouthpiece and consequently curtailed their freedom of expression. When the case was heard before judge Mulonda, Mwenya argued that the Constitutional Court was clothed with the requisite jurisdiction to hear the matter.

But a Ms Shamabobo, a lawyer from the Attorney General’s chambers, argued that Article 28 of the Constitution was very clear as regards enforcement of articles falling under the Bill of Rights, which jurisdiction was assigned to the High Court.

The State had further submitted that the Constitutional Court had no jurisdiction to hear the matter. In reply, Mwenya, while reciting the submissions by the State, applied that the matter be adjourned in order for him to seek legal representation but the application was not entertained.

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