THE ELECTORAL Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has cancelled the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election pursuant to Article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution.
And the commission says it will be conducting fresh nominations for Kabwata Constituency on dates to be advised once a Statutory Instrument has been finalised.
Speaking at a media briefing in Lusaka, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Chief Electroral Officer Patrick Nshindano said this therefore means that all campaign related activities for Kabwata Constituency have been cancelled and will only commence on the date of fresh nominations.
Mr Nshindano explained that this follows the invoking of the provision of Article 52 of the Republican Constitution by Mr Francis Libanda of the United Progressive Party (UPP) this morning.
“The Electoral Commission of Zambia wishes to confirm receipt of a letter dated 7th January 2022, from the United Progressive Party (UPP) Kabwata Parliamentary by-election candidate, Mr Libanda Francis indicating his withdrawal from the forthcoming by-election,” he said.
“The Commission today received another letter from Mr Libanda dated 10th January 2022, clarifying his decision whilst invoking the provision of Article 52 of the Republican Constitution,”.
Mr Nshindano noted that the Electoral Process Act under Section 31(2) provides that
a nomination submitted under subsection (1) may be withdrawn at any time, before the expiry of the period appointed for lodging nomination papers in respect of the constituency concerned, if the candidate delivers to the returning officer a written notice to that effect.
He said on the other hand, Article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution provides that, where a candidate dies, resigns or becomes disqualified in accordance with Article 70, 100 or 153 or a court disqualifies a candidate for corruption or malpractice, after the close of nominations and before the election date, the Electoral Commission shall cancel the election and require the filing of fresh nominations by eligible candidates and elections shall be held within thirty days of the filing of the fresh nominations.
“Based on the initial correspondence of 7th January 2022, the by-election would have proceeded as planned as provided for by the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016, Section 31 (2) which empowers the Commission to reject a withdrawal and proceed with the election
I wish to advise that a “withdrawal” is clearly only permitted before close of nominations as provided under Section 31(2) of the Electoral Process Act.
He however said where a candidate has sought to invoke the provisions of Article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution, the law requires the cancellation of elections and this calls for fresh nominations for eligible candidates.
“In this case, Mr Libanda, in his letter dated 10th January 2022 has invoked the provisions of Article 52(6) of the Constitution of Zambia afore said given that this is a Constitutional provision, the Commission is bound to comply without any discretion to do otherwise,”. he stated.
“As the law requires fresh nominations, it entails that all aspiring candidates in the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election including those that had originally filed in nominations will be required to pay the prescribed nomination fee,”.
Mr Nshindano noted that the Commission also recognises that the process may inconvenience stakeholders especially political parties that had successfully fielded candidates as they will be required to file fresh nominations.
“Members of the public may also wish to note that ballot papers for the Kabwata Parliamentary by-election are scheduled to arrive tomorrow, Tuesday 11th January 2022 via Kenneth Kaunda International Airport from Dubai,” Mr Nshindano said.
He added that the resignation of Mr Libanda comes with unwarranted costs as the already printed ballot papers are a cost that needs to be paid for in addition to other electoral activity costs.
“Political parties are further called upon to thoroughly scrutinise candidates they intend to field in any election to avoid a waste of resources and other inconveniences caused to the Commission, Political Parties and other stakeholders. With the foregoing, stakeholders may note that there is an urgent need to review the electoral laws to enhance the integrity of the electoral process and safeguard scarce public resources that could have otherwise been used for other developmental programmes,” he said.
“The Commission working with other stakeholders will soon embark on a thorough review of the electoral laws in order to enhance the electoral process,”.
Mr Nshindano further explained that, polls for Liangati and Sokontwe Wards will proceed as scheduled on 20th January 2022
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