Zambia’s constitutional court, sitting on the election petition challenging the re-election of President Edgar Lungu, has dismissed an application pleading the court to take custody of electoral materials as the hearing kicks off on Friday September 2.
The United Party for National Development (UPND) led by Hakainde Hichelima had requested the court to to take custody of all electoral materials from the Electoral commission of Zambia (ECZ) for fear of tampering.
But the court in its ruling on Wednesday said it dismissed the UPND’s request because, “Petitioners have not provided evidence of the basis of their apprehension that ECZ will tamper with election materials,” adding that the ECZ had statutory duty to safeguard election materials.
Hearing begins on September 2
The constitutional court will begin hearing of the substantive case in open court after a status conference on Thursday. The meeting with applicants and respondents is to ensure that all parties have complied with petition documents served.
The leading opposition UPND filed the petition challenging the election of Lungu in Zambia’s August 11 polls. They said the poll was rigged by the government with collusion from the ECZ.
The ECZ declared Lungu winner of the polls with 50.35% and insists that Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) party defeated the UPND’s Hichilema fairly and squarely. Hichelima got 47.35% of votes according to the final results.
The Constitutional Court has directed that all outstanding matters be resolved or filed before Thursday ahead of the commencement of the trial.
Zambia’s Constitutional Court consists of six judges: Judge Hildah Chibomba as President of the Court and Judge Mugeni Mulenga, Judge Margaret Munalula, Judge Anne Sitali, Judge Enock Mulembe and Judge Palan Mulonda.
The Court has the final jurisdiction to hear and determine matters in respect of interpretation of any provision of the constitution. Dissatisfied parites cannot appeal to any other court after its ruling.