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HH interfered with independence of ECZ 

By GRACE CHAILE

PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema interfered with the independence of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), by sending former vice-chairperson, Emily Sikazwe, on forced leave prior to expiry of her appointment, the court has heard.

Dr Sikazwe in her submissions to the Constitutional Court, contended that it was the duty of the ECZ through its chairperson to deal with establishing its members’ tenure pursuant to the law and also address leave issues, and not the President.

She added that according to a letter by Mr Hichilema informing her of the non-renewal of the contract and directing her to proceed on forced leave was in breach of Article 216 as he hijacked its independence.

The petitioner submitted that in his execution of the letter appearing at page 15 of the consolidated record of proceedings, the President lived short of the expectation promulgated under article 92(1).

“The respondent (Attorney General) wishes that we should follow the ‘rule of man’ rather than the ‘rule of law’ by arguing that the executive can contract outside the law and the constitution,” Dr Sikazwe submitted.

This is a matter in which Dr Sikazwe is challenging the decision by the President to “pre-maturely” terminate her employment as vice-chairperson of the ECZ.

She contended that President Hichilema contravened article 216 and article 242 as well as section 5 (3) and 6(1) of Act no. 25 of 2016 as amended by Act no. 5 of 2019 of the Electoral Commission Act as it shows a clear indication by the President to replace the rule of law with the rule of man.

The petitioner seeks an order that the decision by the President to prematurely terminate her employment as vice- chairperson of ECZ which was supposed to run from 2020 to 2027 is null and void and devoid of merit.

Dr Sikazwe also seeks an order that the Head of State contravened articles 216 and 242 of the Constitution chapter 1 of the Constitution as read with section 5 (3) and 6(1) of Act no.25 of 2016 as amended by Act no.5 of 2019 of the Electoral Commission Act.

 She wants the State to pay her damages for misfeasance in public office.

The petitioner stated that the State want the court to allow the executive to override statute and the constitution.

Dr Sikazwe urged the court to reaffirm Zambia’s democracy which was anchored on the separation of power s and each arm of government was expected to provide a check and balance on the other arms.

“Once one arm starts to overreach into other arms field, instead of check and balance, we get miss check and unbalanced leading to a breakdown of the rule of law,” she said.

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