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ConCourt subpoenas CCMG programmes officer to testify in COF’s NRC case

THE Constitutional Court has subpoenaed Christian Churches Monitoring Group, (CCMG) programmes officer Peter Mwanang’ombe to testify in a matter where Chapter One Foundation Limited has petitioned the State and the Electoral Commission of Zambia over the decision by the electoral body to limit the voter registration for the August 12, 2021 elections to one month.

The court has granted leave to the petitioner to issue subpoenas duces tecum and ad testificandum to Mwanang’ombe.

In this matter Chapter One Foundation is seeking a declaration that the geographical limitation to the issuance of National Registration Cards will result in the disenfranchisement of many Zambians in contravention of national values and is therefore unconstitutional.

It is seeking a declaration that the limitation of the period within which voter registration will be conducted in 30 days is unconstitutional.

It wants the court to direct that the State implements the mobile issuance of NRCs throughout the country and that ECZ carry out continuous voter registration between elections.

The NGO is further seeking a declaration that ECZ’s decision and intention to stop currently registered voters from voting in the 2021 general elections and future elections is unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

Chapter has asked the court to grant it leave to issue subpoenas to Mwanang’ombe so that he can testify on the mobile issuance of NRCs to allow the court to determine whether or not the exercise was conducted evenly across the country.

ECZ opposed the application to subpoena Mwanang’ombe as Chapter One Foundation did not sufficiently demonstrate the relevance of the witness’s testimony except from the explanation that CCMG is a coalition of faith-based organisations that has been monitoring the general and by-election and mobile issuance of National Registration Cards in Zambia from 2015 to date.

The electoral body said the testimony of Mwanang’ombe would be inadmissible opinion evidence on the 2020 mobile registration exercise as the documents intended to be produced by him are an expression of the opinions of the CCMG.

ECZ added that the evidence to be produced by Mwanang’ombe was irrelevant and should not be allowed at trial.

In his ruling justice Palan Mulonda said he was satisfied with the form of subpoenas before him as the application specifically identified the witness intended to be called and highlighted the type of evidence that the petitioner wants him to testify on.

He said the testimony and some of the documentary evidence intended to be produced by Mwanang’ombe was relevant in the matter as it would help the court to determine the petition on its merit.

“I hold this view because the evidence relates to the mobile issuance of NRCs in the country. I grant the petitioner leave to issue subpoenas duces tecum and ad testificandum,” said justice Mulonda.

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