THE Constitutional Court yesterday threw out a petition by a Lusaka resident in which he wanted the court to order that 44 UPND members of parliament breached the Constitution when they shunned President Edgar Lungu’s address to parliament over two years ago.
In this matter Richard Mumba wanted the court to declare the seats of the 44 opposition members of parliament vacant for not attending President Lungu’s address to the Parliament on March 17, 2017.
However, the Constitutional Court has upheld a preliminary issue which was raised on behalf of the respondents by their defence lawyer Mulambo Haimbe in which he asked the court to dismiss Mumba’s petition with costs, on account that it does not disclose a cause of action which can be determined by the court.
In a ruling delivered on behalf of Constitutional Court judges by justice Mungeni Mulenga, the court has upheld the preliminary issues raised on behalf of Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo and 43 others on grounds that Mumba’s petition was not properly before court as it raised non-constitutional issues.
Justice Mulenga dismissed Mumba’s petition in its entirety and ordered that each party would bear its own costs.
At the last sitting when the matter came up before justice Mungeni Mulenga, Enock Mulembe and Martin Musaluke, the respondents lawyer Haimbe raised a motion through an application of renewal on behalf of his clients, in which he asked the court to dismiss the petition against the 44 members of parliament with costs.
He argued that Mumba sought the court to determine the matter which relates to internal operations of the National Assembly, matters which were governed by subsidiary legislation, rules and regulations which are not part of the constitution.
Haimbe contended that the 44 lawmakers’ renewed application was not an abuse of court process, as the court has the jurisdiction to hear the application adding that Mumba was seeking declaration of issues which were not within the court’s jurisdiction, and prayed that the petition be dismissed with costs.
But the petitioner’s lawyer Robson Malipenga submitted that Nkombo and 43 others could not bring back an application which was dismissed by a single judge and asked the court to dismiss the application as it was an abuse of court process because it was earlier dismissed by a single judge.
He said the court could not rescind the decision made by a single judge without an appeal against the single judge’s decision. Malipenga contended that the application by the respondents to have the petition struck out was made and dismissed by a single judge, and the 44 MPs were advised to raise the issues before a full bench of Constitutional Court.
Mumba’s counsel further urged the court to dismiss the respondents’ renewed application because the same court could not render two decisions, as this would cause the court to undermine itself.
Mumba had petitioned the court seeking a declaration that Nkombo and 43 other lawmakers contravened articles 72(2) (c) and 261 of the code of ethics; articles 260 oath of office and section 19 (e); acts of intentional disrespect to the President and proceedings of the National Assembly when they shunned President Lungu’s parliamentary address in 2017.
He also wanted the court to deny the respondents another chance to re-contest their seats during the period of the current parliament.