ZAQA, ECZ CONFIRM LUNDAZI MP HAS NO G12 CERTIFICATE
By Mwaka Ndawa
THE Zambia Qualifications Authority and the Examination Council of Zambia have told the Constitutional Court that the General Gertificate of Education and other qualifications that Lundazi Central member of parliament Lawrence Nyirenda submitted to the Electoral Commission of Zambia when filing in nominations are not equal to a Grade 12 certificate.
In this matter, losing candidate for Lundazi Central Constituency Lieutenant Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika wants the Constitutional Court to declare the Lundazi parliamentary seat vacant and order the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to hold elections within 90 days.
Colonel Nkunika, who has cited Lawrence Nyirenda as the first respondent and ECZ as the second respondent in the matter, claims that the lawmaker does not have the minimum academic qualifications as prescribed under Article 70 (1) (d) of the
Constitution of Zambia because he does not hold a minimum grade 12 certificate.
Last month the Constitutional Court summoned the Zambia Qualifications Authority and the Examination Council of Zambia to appear before it and explain what constitutes a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.
This was after Nyirenda told the court that he did not know that a grade 12 certificate is constituted of five subjects.
During cross-examination by Nkunika’s lawyer Chifumu Banda, Nyirenda said that he was not aware whether the documents he presented during filing in of nominations, which were a General Certificate of Education with one pass in English, a ZNS certificate, a certificate in computers and certificate in theology training by extension, were not equivalent to a grade 12 certificate.
Banda asked Nyirenda whether he was aware that a grade 12 certificate should contain passes in 5 or more subjects and also whether he was aware that the documents he presented at the time of nominations were not equivalent.
In his response, Nyirenda explained that he does not know what really qualifies as a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent because it was not written anywhere.
He argued that the fact that his qualifications where accepted when filing nominations it meant that he qualified to contest the elections and subsequently be in Parliament.
Nyirenda’s explaination forced the court to summon witnesses from ZAQA and ECZ to explain what constitutes a grade 12 certificate and adjourned the matter to July 8.
When the matter came up for hearing, court president Hilda Chibomba, judges Ann Sitali, Mungeni Mulenga, Palan Mulonda, ZAQA director and chief executive officer Miriam Chiyabi discredited the institutions which awarded Nyirenda skills certificates because they were not recognised by the authority.
During cross-examination Banda asked Chibiya to confirm whether the certificates in military training, computers and music which were awarded to Nyirenda by different institutions amount to an academic qualification and whether they are equivalent to a grade 12 certificate, Chibiya denied.
Asked if Nyirenda’s certificate of achievement awarded by Lundazi Provincial Teacher’s Resource Centre was equivalent to a Grade 12 certificate, Chibiya responded in the negative, saying the same was a short course and it was not given by an awarding body recognised by the authority.
When asked by Nyirenda’s lawyer Tutwa Ngulube on whether a GCE was equivalent to a grade twelve certificate, Chibiya said: “A General Certificate of Education is equivalent to a grade 12 certificate if it has five subjects including English language and should have two credits or better.
She said a general certificate of education could contain one subject but for it to be equivalent to a grade certificate, it should have six subjects with a pass and including English and on credit or better.
“It (GCE) can only be recognised as a grade 12 certificate if it has six subjects, including English and should have two credits or better,” said Chibiya.
Asked by lawyer representing the Electoral Commission of Zambia on whether the level of descriptance were confirmed before or after the filing in of nominations in 2016, Chibiya said the same was confirmed after filing in nominations.
Earlier, Examination Council of Zambia director and chief executive officer Dr Micheal Chilala told the court the General Certificate of Education which depicts only one subject being English, which Nyirenda submitted to the electoral body was not equivalent to a full Grade 12 certificate.
Dr Chilala said a school certificate was an academic qualification awarded to a person who satisfies two conditions in one and the same examination (i) an individual should obtains a Pass in 6 subjects including English language and atleast one among the six subjects should be credit and (ii) A pass in atleast five subjects including English with atleast two of the five should be credit or better.
When asked if the General Certificate of Education was the same as a school certificate, Dr Chilala responded in the negative, explaining that a General Certificate of Education becomes equivalent to a school certificate if the number of the subjects meet those prescribed to constitute a school certificate.
He said that Nyirenda’s General Certificate of Education which has one subject (English) is not equivalent to a school certificate neither is the General Certificate of Education which he obtained in 2019 depicting four passes because the requirement of a minimum of five subjects including English language, and two credits was not met.
“A grade 12 certificate and a school certificate are one and the same. Grade 12 is a common name used, the actual name is school certificate which is awarded to an individual after 12 years of schooling upon meeting the qualifications set by ECZ. Only a person who sat for grade nine exams is capable of sitting for grade twelve exams because they use the same examination number which they used at junior level,” Dr Chilala said.
When asked by Ngulube if ECZ was authorised to issue degrees, Dr Chilala said the mandate of ECZ was to issue certificates and diplomas and not degrees therefore other skill qualifications obtained by Nyirenda were not academic qualifications.
He said that the Examination Council confirmed that Nyirenda’s General Certificate of Education was a valid GCE and not a grade 12 certificate.
Dr Chilala affirmed that a General Certificate of Education was an official qualification.
“GCE exams run on the same standards as grade 12. For GCE, one can enter for one or more subjects, GCE is awarded even if a person passes one subject. For grade 12, one is supposed to enter for six subjects. A person who sits grade 12 must have a grade nine certificate but a person who sits for GCE does not need a grade nine certificate, they cannot follow the 12-year of schooling,” said Dr Chilala.
He added that the General Certificate of Education obtained by Nyirenda was authentic.
At this point justice Chibomba indicated that the court would reserve judgement to a later date to be communicated.