By Staff Reporter
CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) has condemned the recently gazetted Electoral Amendment Bill saying it is unconstitutional as it may stop opposition members from contesting national elections.
The heavily criticised law was gazetted at the end of 2022 amid wide criticism for lacking the input from political players and election watchdogs.
Among a litany of changes, the Bill seeks disqualification of previously convicted persons from contesting in national elections.
Legislators or councillors will be disqualified if they commit physical violence or dishonesty crimes and get convicted within a period of 12 months before the date of nomination as a candidate.
CCC feels the new legislation was calculated to block jailed lawmaker Job Sikhala from participating in the 2023 general election.
Sikhala has been in jail for over six months following his arrest in June last year.
“This proposed amendment requires aspiring candidates to make solemn declarations that they have no conviction for at least 12 months prior to the election.
“This amendment is calculated to ensure our members who are facing targeted prosecutions and are victims of clear weaponisation of the law to silence the opposition do not stand as candidates.
“This implied disqualification clause for parliamentary candidates violates and is ultra vires the constitution.
“The Constitution sets out the only competent grounds for disqualification of members of parliament in sections 121, 125 and 129. Crucially, there is no mention of disqualification due to prior conviction before tenure of office,” CCC said in a statement Monday.
Sikhala was arrested for allegedly inciting violence to avenge the death of slain CCC activist Moreblessing Ali.
The lawmaker was also charged with obstructing investigations into Ali’s murder.
He has applied for bail 10 times at the magistrates’ court without luck.
Both trials are yet to start.