High Court throws out Sesheke election petition, declares UPND’s Kangombe duly elected

By Staff Reporter
THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed a petition lodged by PF losing candidate Dean Masule in the February 2019 Sesheke by election and declared that UPND’s  Romeo Kangombe  was duly elected.
And UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said the people of Sesheke proved the will of the people by voting for Kangombe because they realised the damage the PF had caused to the nation
Judge Gertrude Chawatama said in her more than three hours judgment that the petitioner failed to prove that Kangombe personally or through his agents participated in the violence that engulfed the by election.
Judge Chawatama also said there was no dispute that violence and undue influence engulfed the campaigns as six out of the nine wards in the constituency were affected.
The judge however, said the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) should have gone further to suspend the by election or disqualify candidates  who were allegedly involved in the violence as it has powers to do so under the law.
Judge Chawatama added that according to the findings, the police did their best to control the atmosphere but that they were wrong to beat cadres at Sesheke lodge.
She said further that according to the law, elections must be conducted under a fair and free atmosphere within the framework of the law which was not the case in the Sesheke constituency by election.
The judge said there was a breakdown in the Electoral lrocess during the Sesheke by election as the environment was not conducive.
She noted that although the violence which was notably instigated by UPND, PF and the police to some extent, was wide spread, there was no evidence that Kangombe was aware or gave consent of the illegality or other misconduct.
The judge said the will of the people of Sesheke  was expressed through the number of  votes which Kangombe amassed.
“I declare that the respondent (Kangombe) was validly elected as member of parliament for Sesheke constituency and I declare that Romeo Kangombe was dully elected. The petition is dismissed and I make no orders as to costs,” said judge Chawatama.
Masule petitioned the seat of Kangombe, arguing that the elections were not free and fair.
He claimed that the campaigns were characterized by undue influence that resulted from threats and violence to life and property.
Masule also alleged that there was rampant physical attacks on
PF members and the general public which resulted in severe injuries.
The petitioner further claimed that acts of violence were widespread and
affected the majority voters of the nine wards that constituted Sesheke parliamentary constituency.
He urged the court to declare Kangombe’s election null and void on grounds that the election was characterized by political violence.
On the other hand, Kangombe denied Masule’s allegations that violence
engulfed Sesheke district during the by-election.
He however, accused the PF
officials themselves of undertaking acts of electoral malpractice to
prevent electorates from voting for him.
Kangombe stated that Masule’s claims of violence were speculative, adding that if at all that occurred,
which he denies, then it was in isolated incidences.
He urged the court to dismiss the petition.
Speaking to journalist after the judgement, Hichilema and Kangombe expressed happiness with the judgment.
They thanked lawyer Mulambo Haimbe for putting up a spirited legal battle.
Hichilema said the people of Sesheke proved the will of the people by voting for Kangombe because they realised the damage the PF had caused to the nation.