There was an air of incredulity and disbelief when the public media first announced the barring of candidates and nullification of the Chipata Central seat.
Incredulity quickly turned to suspicion when the Electoral Commission of Zambia also expressed ignorance of the development.
Then suspicion turned into anger when it was revealed that a Press “statement” purporting to emanate from the Judiciary had been issued in the dead of night to ensure that popular opposition candidates did not file their nomination on account of previous judicial decisions.
The anger turned into legal indignation on discovery that the “Judiciary” statement was signed by the Judiciary Public relations officer and not a proper officer of the court such as a Judge.
Subsequently there was confusion on the day of nomination because neither the Electoral Commission of Zambia not the various candidates had knowledge or site of the “press statement” which effectively barred them from lodging their nominations.
The Law Association of Zambia cried foul.
Subsequently the same statement from the Judiciary was reproduced, this time bearing the signature of the Registrar.
The confusion then turned into incandescent anger when it became clear that the intention of the statement from the “Judiciary” was an interpretation of the law coming from outside the judicial process.
Those affected were seeing the decision for the first time and had not been given an opportunity to be heard as required by natural justice. The statement did not say how or where the decision had been taken and in what circumstances the Judiciary had found it fit to implement a decision that seemed to support the public statements of the Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba who is also Secretary General of the ruling Patriotic Front.
The statement has created understandable confusion, anger and indignation.
Firstly, the term judiciary does not represent a court process. If anything it incorporates the High Court which did not in the firs at place make any “findings” that would have forced the Registrar to render a report in accordance with the Electoral code.
Secondly; the Judiciary cannot interpret the law outside judicial proceedings, where procedural safeguards ensure that both sides are heard before a decision is taken.
Thirdly the argument cited by the “Judiciary” are in tandem with Wynter Kabimba’s statements, which statement were reflected in public media reports published long before the decision was communicated to interested parties who should have been given ample opportunity to respond.
In totality, the statement was a total mischief, as it was intended to give the PF absolute advantage over the other political parties, who would have been stopped from filing on account of decisions to which they were neither party to nor aware of.
This is not how the law operates. The law demands impartiality and fairplay that were totally lacking in the “Judiciary” statement whose origin must be determined because it amounts to an abuse of authority to create advantage to the ruling party.