THE CONSTITUTIONAL Court has reserved ruling in an application for the preservation, detention and custody of all election material, including ballot papers and all documentary records, into court pending hearing and determination of the presidential petition against the declaration of Patriotic Front candidate Edgar Lungu as the winner of the August 11, 2016, general election.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court is today expected to hear the application against the continued stay in office of President-elect Edgar Lungu despite the petition filed against the declaration of his re-election into office.
Lawyers disclosed to the press outside the Supreme Court that presiding Justice Annie Sitali yesterday heard the application for an ex-parte order to retain elections materials into the court’s custody to avoid tampering or any alterations to the information from the elections.
The UPND have submitted that the court being neutral should the in possession of the structures being used to house Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) materials used in the 2016 elections.
They have said explained that it should not necessarily be physical taking, but that the word ‘‘custody’’ could mean take over ECZ facilities used for storage.
“The essence of the application is that this honourable court being neutral in the dispute between the parties ought to take custody of the election materials whose particulars are set out in various documents so as to ensure a fair and transparent process.
“The term ‘custody’ used in the application does not necessarily mean that the subject materials ought to be physically brought to court and detained here but rather the term is used in reference to this court taking over the control of sheds and warehouses housing subject materials,” they said.
The UPND had earlier objected to a submission from the Constitutional Court registrar Kelvin Limbani who advised against the decision for ballot papers and other such election materials to be brought to court for storage before the matter was concluded.
Last week, Ms Justice Sitali advised Attorney General Likando Kalaluka to make another submission after the opposition lawyers submitted an objection against an officer of the Constitutional Court making an application before the same court.
And the Constitutional Court has set today at 15:00 hours for the hearing of the UPND application against President-elect Lungu’s continued stay in office and the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini’s failure to take over as acting president pending the petition.
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema petitioned the court over Dr Matibini’s failure to take charge of the country following the filing of a petition challenging the ECZ declaration of the PF president as the winner.
Mr Hichilema, who is UPND presidential losing candidate, together with his running mate Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, filed an application into the Constitutional Court against Mr Lungu and his running mate Vice President Inonge Wina, alleging that it was an invalid election marred with numerous irregularities.
They have asked the court to declare null and void the declaration, citing irregularities in the operations of the commission, but have also asked that the court declares their candidate Mr Hichilema winner of the same cited invalid election.