THE Electoral Commission of Zambia says the matter in which Radical Revolutionary Party leader Vincent Chaile has petitioned it over high nomination fees for presidential candidates is wrongly before the Constitutional Court.
It says the matter ought to have been taken to the High Court because it alleges discrimination based on the petitioner’s political rights and gender.
ECZ said it was mandated to prescribe nomination fees under the electoral process (general) Regulations 2016, the Electoral Process Act and the Constitution of Zambia.
In this matter, Chaile is seeking a declaration that the nomination fees announced by the ECZ are null and void.
Chaile wants an order of injunction restraining the ECZ from proceeding to host the general elections until final determination of the matter.
In his petition, Chaile stated that he was set to participate in the forthcoming general elections in August 2021.
He said that ECZ on July 16, 2020 issued a statement proposing an increment of nomination fees.
Chaile said according to the proposed nomination fees, male presidential candidates would be required to pay K150,000 from K60,000 while female presidential candidates and persons with disabilities would pay K120,000 from K60,000.
Male parliamentary candidates are required to pay K25,000 from K7,500 with female candidates, youth and persons with disabilities are expected to pay K20,000 from K7,500.
For mayors, male candidates K25,000 from K7,500 with female candidates, youth and persons with disabilities paying K20,000 from K7,500, among others.
The fees were later revised for the 2021 general elections with male presidential expected to pay K95,000, females K75,000 and K60,000 for youth and persons living with disabilities. Parliamentary male candidates was put at K15,000, females at K13,500 while the youth and persons with disabilities will be required to pay K10,000, mayoral male K15,000, K13,500 for females while the youth and persons with disabilities are expected to pay K10,000.
Chaile stated that ECZ and other stakeholders held various meetings where the stakeholders raised concerns that the proposed fees were too high and meant to deter the poor people from participating in the leadership of the country.
He lamented that ECZ’s announcement of nomination fees was a direct infringement on the right to participate in an election.
Chaile charged that elections are not a profit venture but a fundamental part of the democratic process in which citizens easily participate.
“ECZ elected to ignore the concerns raised by the petitioner and other stakeholders and thus excluding the youths and underprivileged but visionary adults from participating in politics,” stated Chaile.
But EZC chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano in an affidavit in support of summons to strike out the petition and dismiss action said neither the petition not the affidavit verifying facts disclosed any alleged violation of the constitution on the part of ECZ as alleged.
Nshindano said the petition and the affidavit verifying facts do not meet the requirements for actions that ought to be brought before court.
And in its skeleton arguments in support of summons to strike out the petition and to dismiss the action, ECZ said Chaile cannot stop it from performing its statutory function of prescribing the election fee on the ground that his political right would be infringed.
“Given the provisions of Article 128(1) of the constitution which clearly spells out the mandate of this court, the petition ought to be struck out and the action dismissed as it is frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the process of this court,” Nshindano said.
He said the enforcement of Article 21 and 23 relating to discrimination and violation of political rights is a preserve of the High Court and not the Constitutional Court.
“This court has no jurisdiction to enforce the petitioner’s alleged discrimination on the basis of sex and the alleged violation of the petitioner’s political rights. It is our prayer that the matter be struck out and dismissed with costs,” said Nshindano.