It’s a constitutional coup – VJ

Statement by Dr Vernon J Mwaanga on the shocking outcome of the Presidential petition”

The decision by the constitutional court not to hear the presidential election petition of Hakainde Hichilema and Geoffrey Mwamba, challenging the declaration of the Electoral Commission of Zambia to pronounce Edgar Lungu the winner of the just ended elections , without even hearing the petition was a constitutional coup and sets a very serious and dangerous precedent for the future .

The lawyers for the petitioners were first given dates to the effect that their petition would be heard from 5th September up to 8th September and then suddenly on 1st September , they were told and it is on record, that the court had reversed itself and that the petition would be heard the following day on friday 2nd September and concluded before midnight.

After a lot of drama and walkouts by lawyers for the petitioners last friday, Hichilema and Mwamba had to make a passionate plea for their petition to be heard . The court then adjourned and returned to inform the petitioners that their matter would be heard on monday 5th september for four days and that each party would be given two days to argue its case up to thursday 8th September.

After what must have been a lot of political pressure, the court by three judges to two , reversed itself yet again and held that the extension it had granted the petitioners last friday was unconstitutional and that the petition could therefore not be heard on account that it was constitutionally time bad.

What kind of court have we been saddled with and what kind of confidence should citizens have in such a court which flip flops and reverses itself with sickening and extremely dangerous regularity ? The Judges of the Constitutional Court have proved to the citizens and the world at large that they do not understand their duties and responsibilities and must either resign on moral grounds or be dismissed for gross misconduct and assassination of the Constitution of Zambia, which they are supposed to defend, uphold and protect. our country cannot afford this kind of indecision and judicial circus we have had the displeasure to witness in the last few days.

Questions arose after the same court ruled as illegal and unconstitutional the decision by President Lungu to retain deputy ministers in government since January,2016 , when the amended constitution came into force, because they don’t exist in the current constitution.

Then the court also ruled on the same day that ministers and deputy ministers should not have been told by President Lungu to remain in office after Parliament was dissolved and that they should refund in full all the salaries and allowances they earned illegally to the treasury.

It was curious that it took the same court up to the 8th August to deliver that judgment only three days before the general elections , which rendered their decision academic and even irrelevant . Dismissing a serious election petition without hearing evidence as the constitution demands is a travesty of justice of the highest degree .”

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