By Nation Reporter
GOVERNMENT says there is nothing wrong with the Grade 12 certification rule for political office holders but that there is need for the court to interpret the law in order to avoid mischief.
This is in a matter where Sibongile Zulu, a Kabwe resident, has sued the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) and the Attorney General on the interpretation of “what is the meaning of Grade 12 certificate or its equivalent as a minimum qualification”?
Ms Zulu has challenged the Attorney General and ECZ in the Kabwe High Court on whether Article 70 of the Constitution barred the nomination of persons who did not hold a Grade 12 certificate but had other qualifications issued by recognized institutions of higher learning.
In its submissions, the State explained that in contention to the applicable rule, there was need for the courts to interpret the law so as to avoid mischief.
“Our contention is that the applicable rule of interpretation herein is the mischief rule, which postulates that the court should interpret the law so as to avoid the mischief or harm which the drafters sought to avoid.
“Further, it is also our further submission that the fact that the relevant constitutional provisions require a ‘minimum of a Grade 12 certificate’ and not a ‘Grade 12 certificate’ clearly show that the intention of the drafters was to prescribe the barest minimum qualification which candidates should have and that a higher qualification would not be disqualified,” the State said.
The State explained that the word ‘‘equivalent’’ in the context used was meant to be understood as meaning that a Grade 12 certificate could equal the value or similar effect on an individual as to allow them “debate effectively and make meaningful contribution” in political office.
They said it was a considered submission that a person who held a higher or similar qualification as Grade 12 certificate would have a similar or equal effect or value as one who held a Grade 12 certificate.
The State has also explained that determination of what constituted a qualification to be equivalent to a Grade 12 certificate would be by the institution mandated to determine equivalence of academic qualification in general.
“It is our submission that the Technical Committee Drafting the Zambian Constitution did not intend to limit the qualification criteria for the elective offices, herein to those holding school certificates only. Our further contention is that the ‘Grade 12 certificate’ requirement encompasses both the School Certificate and GCE Certificate holders.”