PATRIOTIC Front Luangeni member of parliament Charles Zulu has petitioned the Constitutional Court to interpret what is equivalent to a grade 12 certificate and whether an individual without a grade 12 certificate but has tertiary certificates cannot participate in this year’s general elections.
On March 9, 2021, the ConCourt warned the Electoral Commission of Zambia against processing nominations for candidates who do not have requisite academic qualifications in the August 12 general elections as well as future elections to avoid violating the Constitution.
The court said so when it dismissed the petition in which losing candidate for Lundazi Constituency Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika petitioned it seeking a declaration that the Lundazi parliamentary seat be declared vacant because the incumbent member of parliament Lawrence Nyirenda did not have a grade 12 certificate.
Zulu has cited the Electoral Commission of Zambia and the Attorney General in the matter seeking an interpretation of Article 70 (1)(d) in relation to the notification by the electoral body that they will not accept nominations from aspiring candidates with only qualifications from tertiary institutions except the prescribed grade 12 certificate.
The lawmaker wants a determination on whether having regard to the Constitutional Court’s judgment delivered on March 10, 2021, in the Bizwayo Nkunika petition and the pronouncement by ECZ on March 17 that tertiary qualifications such as trade certificates, diploma or degree were not equivalent to grade 12 certificate is breach of the Constitution considering that a grade 12 certificate or it’s equivalent is the minimum academic qualification required for a candidate.
Zulu wants the court to determine whether a person who possess high qualifications than a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent is not eligible to contest as member of parliament because he or she does not have a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.
He also wants a determination on whether the electoral body should make a blanket interpretation as to what constitutes a grade 12 certificate or equivalent and that no tertiary qualification is equivalent to a grade 12 certificate.
In an affidavit in support of originating summons, Zulu said that he participated in the Constitutional amendment process that gave birth to Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill no.2 of 2016 and among the amendments effected to the constitution was the introduction of Article 70 (1)(d) which requires a candidate for a parliamentary seat to possess a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.
He disclosed that the motive for introducing the minimum academic qualification was to guide political parties to nominate people who were capable of debating effectively and make meaningful contributions to Parliament.
“On March 10, 2021, this court rendered its judgment in the matter of Bizwayo Nkunika vs Lawrence Nyirenda and ECZ in which it made a landmark pronouncement that a tertiary, vocational, craft, trade or apprenticeship certificate is not equivalent to a grade 12 certificate as it is not comparable in value amount, meaning and functions to a grade 12 certificate,” Zulu said.
He contended that the notification by ECZ that it would not accept from aspiring candidates without a grade 12 certificate will have a devastating effect on the aspirations of communities to choose leaders of their choice.