THE Kabwe High Court has declared as unconstitutional the interpretation by the Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) of the Grade 12 certificate as ultimate minimum qualification for one to participate in elective political office.
Kabwe High Court Judge Dominic Sichinga has ruled that the Examination Council of Zambia is not an authority for the qualification of candidates to the office of President, Member of Parliament (MP) and councillor pursuant to Articles 70 (1), 82 (2) (e) 100 (1) (e) and 153 (4) (c).
Delivering ruling in a matter in which Sibongile Zulu had sued the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the Attorney General over the interpretation of the Grade 12 certificate requirement for candidates to the office of President, MP and councillor, Judge Sichinga ruled that to impose a high standard on political aspirants offended the equal worth of women and men and their right to freely participate in the political, legal, economic and social order of the country.
Judge Sichinga ruled that he had found the statement by Examination Council of Zambia that candidates without a Grade 12 certificate were constitutionally barred from contesting any of the political elective positions as not only unconstitutional but arbitrary and inconsistent with the values and principles of the Constitution.
In her affidavit, Zulu submitted that she did not possess a Grade 12 certificate but had a diploma issued by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) which she believed was a higher qualification.
Ms Zulu wondered whether a candidate in her position would be allowed to file her nomination as the Electoral Commission of Zambia had restricted the certification of academic qualification to Grade 12 certificate neglecting other tertiary qualifications.
She said the interpretation given by the Electoral Commission of Zambia was not reflective of the spirit and the intention of the Constitution.
She argued that while the impinged provision of the Grade 12 certificate was meant to improve the levels of understanding and to bar candidates that would fail to either understand or contribute to the legislative making process, it was inconceivable that a person who had professional qualification in accounts or purchasing and supply would be less capable.
“Education is still in many respects, a preserve of those with the means to educate their children. Thus a person may have undertaken or opted to pursue a vocational route on account of no other prospects, but one would have been able to develop the necessary cognitive skills through an apprenticeship,” Ms Zulu argued.
Judge Sichinga ruled that having considered the questions raised and the conclusions, he had come to find that Ms Zulu satisfied the requirements of Section 70 (2) (d) and 153 (4) (c) as she had not only a diploma but had completed high or secondary school.