The current news is that a Lusaka based High Court judge has halted the impeachment of President Edgar Lungu because two PF cadres have challenged the Speaker’s decision to proceed with the impeachment process.
Robert Chabinga and Henry Mulenga argue that the Speaker’s decision to accept the motion of impeachment was unreasonable, procedurally improper and illegal. This is actually an attempt to seek judicial review. The court has since allowed the two cadres to seek judicial review and has stopped parliament from impeaching Lungu until the court makes a decision on whether it should go ahead.
The Zambian Watchdog will follow this matter with keen interest but for now we can briefly state our opinion as follows:
This matter will hinge on the issue of locus standing on the two PF cadres and probably on the supremacy of parliament (to be dealt with in next article). We wish to state here that Robert Chabinga and Henry Mulenga have no right to seek judicial review in this matter. They simply have no sufficient interest in this matter above any of us.
We shall explain.
Courts in Zambia and many countries only grant judicial reveal to individuals who have ‘sufficient’ interests in a matter in court. It is called ‘locus Standi’.
Now, according to judge Mungeni Siwale Mulenga (in Dora Siliya and others V Attorney Genela), Judicial review is a procedure by which the High Court exercises supervisory jurisdiction over the proceedings and decisions of tribunals or bodies performing public duties or functions. It is not concerned with the merits of the decisions, but whether the exercise of power has been done within the confines of the law or whether the public body has exceeded its jurisdiction.
Simply put, Judicial review is the power of a court to decide whether a law or decision by the government is constitutional. But it is governed by rules.
For example, In the case of Abel Mulenga and Others v Mabvuto Chikumbi and Others it was held that: “In order for the applicant to be joined as a party in the action, the Applicant ought to have shown that they have an interest in the subject matter of the action and that the mere fact that the applicants may have been affected by the decision does not clothe them with sufficient interest or locus standi entitling them to be joined in the dispute.”
The point here is that courts should only grant judicial review to individuals personally affected by actions in question, and not just anyone with NO interest who merely desire to review the legality of such actions ‘in the public’s interest’ or as ‘an interested member of the public’.
This, as said by one leading judge, is “to prevent abuse by busybodies, cranks and other mischief makers” and, we can add ‘ PF cadres and other thugs paid to delay the work of parliament. It is also meant to ensure no undue delay for example to planning projects, impeaching presidents who break the law etc….
This is how the courts in Zambia have been treating judicial review up to now. Only a person with interest in the matter can go to court and seek judicial review. In this case, only president Edgar Lungu has sufficient interest in this matter and he is the one who should go to court. Chabinga and Mulenga have no interest in the impeachment of Lungu above any other person in Zambia.
We have a lot of respect for Justice Annesie Banda-Bobo, who is handling this case and we believe she will do justice unless rats invade her chambers.