ATTORNEY-GENERAL Mumba Malila has urged the Supreme Court to bar former Petauke Central member of Parliament (MP) Dora Siliya and others from re-contesting by-elections, which were nullified last year.
Mr Malila said when the matter came up for hearing yesterday that Ms Siliya, former Malambo MP Maxwell Mwale and former Mulobezi MP Hastings Sililo should be barred from recontesting their seats because High Court judge Mugeni Mulenga misdirected herself by permitting them to file nomination papers.
This is in a case in which Ms Siliya, Mr Mwale and Mr Sililo were blocked by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to file the nomination papers following the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify their election because of electoral corruption.
“The State is unhappy with the way in which the learned High Court judge interpreted the law. The High Court judge failed to give a purposeful interpretation of Section 22 of the Electoral Act but preferred to rely on statutory interpretation,” he said.
Section 22 states that any person who is convicted of any corrupt practice, illegal practice, reported guilty of any corrupt practice or illegal practice by the High Court upon trial of an election petition shall not qualify for election as a member of the National Assembly for a period of five years from the date of the conviction or of the report, as the case may be.
Mr Malila said failure by Mrs Justice Mulenga to interpret the law was a “grave misdirection”.
He said instead of Mrs Justice Mulenga interpreting the law, she blamed the draftsmen of the law.
And one of Ms Siliya’s lawyers, Eric Silwamba, said the submissions by Mr Malila lack merit and should be dismissed with costs.
Mr Silwamba said Section 22, which was raised by Mr Malila, cannot be read in isolation but together with Section 104 of the Electoral Act.
He said Mrs Justice Mulenga was on firm ground when she ordered that Ms Siliya, Mr Mwale and Mr Sililo should be allowed to file their nomination papers to recontest the elections.
And the Supreme Court has reserved ruling to a date to be communicated to both parties.
Ms Siliya, Mr Mwale and Mr Sililo last year applied for a stay of execution of the ECZ’s decision and Mrs Justice Mulenga permitted them to file the nomination papers for the by-elections.
This prompted Mr Malila to appeal to the Supreme Court against Mrs Justice Mulenga’s decision.