THE Constitutional Court has directed that the matter in which losing independent candidate for Lundazi Constituency Bizwayo Nkunika is challenging PF member Lawrence Nyirenda’s election as member of parliament be sent back to the single judge of the court. Constitutional Court president Hildah Chibomba, judges Anne Sitali and Palan Mulonda have ordered that the case record be sent back to the single judge so that directions could be issued and for the preparation of the petition to be heard by the full bench. In this matter, Colonel Nkunika wants the court to nullify Nyirenda’s election victory of 2016 as Lundazi member of parliament on grounds that he does not have the minimum academic qualification as prescribed under Article 70 (1) (d) of the Constitution of Zambia.
Col Nkunika claimed that Nyirenda does not have a 12 certificate. He is seeking an order to compel the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), which has been sued as a second respondents, to conduct elections in Lundazi within 90 days. However, the respondent raised preliminary issues in which he wants the court to determine whether the petition was statute barred for being filed out of time as provided under Article 52 (4) of the Constitution. Nyirenda said the petitioner did not apply for leave of the court as required by law before filing his petition.
But Nkunika urged the court to dismiss the respondent’s preliminary issue raised and proceed to hear the petition. When the matter came up for hearing of preliminary issues raised on May 8, justices Chibomba, Sitali and Mulonda told the parties that they would hear the preliminary issues raised at the same time of hearing the petition.
“We have also noted that the 1st respondent has not filed an answer in this matter,” said the judges.
About three witness statements have been filed in the matter by Col Nkunika, the returning officer for Lundazi Constituency during the 2016 general elections George Banda and the investigation officer, senior superintendent Moses Kabamba.