The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has applied before the Constitutional Court for a joinder to a petition in a matter in which two Lusaka based lawyers asked the Constitutional Court to render its interpretation on whether the amended Constitution allows political parties to sponsor candidates for the election or nomination of councillors ahead of the August 11th general elections.
In an application filed before the Constitutional Court, YALI president Andrew Ntewewe has argued that should the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) proceed with its advertised decision to accept nominations from candidates to local government elections, the Commission would be in breach of the Constitution of Zambia, as amended.
Mr Ntewewe has submitted that according to Article 60 of the Constitution, political parties now have a limited right to sponsor candidates for nomination or elections to State Office, and councillors and Mayors as they are not State Officers.
Both YALI and the two Lusaka – based lawyers who initiated the petition have told the Constitutional Court that they were not challenging the right of persons to belong to any political party of their choice but the right of parties to sponsor candidates for elections as councillors. Earlier, two lawyers asked the Constitutional Court to render its interpretation on whether the amended Constitution allows political parties to sponsor candidates for the election or nomination of councillors ahead of the August 11th General Elections.
Lawyers Noel Siamoondo and Kelly Kapianga, who sued the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as a first Respondent and the Attorney General as Second Respondent, argued that Article 60 and 153 of the amended Constitution has limited the right for political parties to sponsor candidates for election to State Office.
The lawyers who also sued in their capacity as citizens of Zambia under Article 2 of the Constitution of Zambia are seeking a declaration that persons who intend to contest as councillors could not be sponsored by political parties and that local authorities as established by the Constitution are autonomous and therefore, political parties could not sponsor councillors as that would comprise and/or interfere with the performance of their duties.
The lawyers also argued that the office of councillor as provided in the amended Constitution was not a State Office and other provisions in the amended Constitution support the notion that the Constitution had created a new structure of local government which made Councils free from partisan political influence in the delivery of services to the people.