PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has discontinued a case in which it challenged Parliament for endorsing President Lungu’s decision to invoke Article 31 of the republican Constitution to give police more powers to deal with acts of sabotage.
In a notice filed in the constitutional court yesterday, the UPND, through its lawyers, said it sought to discontinue the matter henceforth, adding that service of the process had not been effected on the respondents because of the same reason.
Reports suggest that the decision to abandon the case comes after the party leadership met and resolved to discontinue.
In an affidavit filed in the Constitutional Court last week through its secretary-general Stephen Katuta, the party alleged that the decision to invoke article 31 was a scheme calculated to disenfranchise the 46 suspended members of Parliament and their respective constituencies from participating in matters of national importance.
Mr Katuka said he was reliably advised and believed that it was unconstitutional for Parliament to convene for purposes of passing a resolution to approve the declaration in the absence of the suspended UPND MPs.
“By reason of the foregoing, I have filed an originating summons to call for the interpretation of Article 31(2) of the Constitution of Zambia and impugn the decision of the Speaker to proceed in the absence of the UPND members of Parliament to approve the declaration,” Mr Katuka said.
He also wanted the court to interpret whether in the absence of the 46 suspended MPs, the remaining MPs, who mainly comprise Patriotic Front (PF), can ratify the invocation.
President Lungu recently invoked Article 31, proclaiming that there exists a situation which, if it is allowed to continue, may lead to a state of emergency.
“If not, whether this is not a suitable matter for the Constitutional Court to quash any decision, action, measure whatsoever by the Speaker to approve by a resolution, the proclamation by the President of the republic of Zambia as promulgated in gazette notice number 448 of 2017 under statutory instrument number 53 of 2017 and declare that such is or was unconstitutional for being done in contravention of article 31(2) of the Constitution of Zambia,” Mr Katuka said.
Meanwhile, 11 female UPND supporters accused of rioting at the Lusaka High Court have been set free.
Lusaka magistrate Sylvia Munyinya has acquitted Taisa Chihukwe and 10 others.
The cadres were accused of running amok after the presidential petition hearing on 15th December 2016.