Editor’s note: Will the Constitutional Court give a fair trial?
The main opposition UPND party, which narrowly lost to the ruling PF party in last week’s presidential election, maintains it will petition the result. Although it keeps on postponing the date on which it will do so, thus keeping everyone guessing on whether or not it will happen, the really interesting question is if the petition will make any difference? Can the UPND expect a fair trial in the Constitutional Court? All its judges were recently handpicked and appointed by PF President Lungu. Will the judges dare to bite the hand that feeds them? Judges should, in theory, be safe from political pressure, as they can only be removed by the Judicial Complaints Commission, based on disability, incompetence, gross misconduct or bankruptcy, but is the commission acting independently? Zambia has little experience with petitions of presidential elections, but it has happened before. In February 2005, the Supreme Court agreed that the election of President Mwanawasa in December 2001 was flawed, but ruled that the irregularities did not affect the result. The UPND’s petition could thus become a true test for the judiciary.
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly