Concourt rules that deputy mayors, deputy council chairpersons eligible recontest
By Staff Reporter
CONSTITUTIONAL Court judge Enock Mulembe has ruled that deputy mayors and deputy council chairpersons are eligible to re-contest elections in accordance with the Local Government Act no. 2 of 2019 which came into effect five days before the case was heard.
This was in a petition filed by Chinsali deputy mayor Martin Chitondo and four deputy council chairpersons where they wanted the court to interpret whether they were eligible to recontest their positions in the election.
Chitondo, Obert Tembo (Luangwa), Roland Hamamba (Chilanga), Ignatius Hang’ombe (Chisamba) and Simeon Zimba (Chama) were seeking the court’s interpretation of the law after the Ministry of Local Government barred them from contesting their positions in the forthcoming elections which were put on hold pending determination of the matter.
But the State argued that the tenure of office of deputy or vice council chairperson was a maximum of two and half years and that a deputy mayor or vice council chairperson may only contest the position after the elapse of five years from the last time they held office.
The State also submitted that the court should adopt the literal rule when interpreting Article 154 (1) as no absurdity arises.
According to the judgement of the court, the petitioners are eligible to contest elections because when they came into office, the Act which was in existence did state the term of office for deputy mayors and deputy council chairpersons but with the coming of the Local Government Act no. 2 of 2019, they were now eligible.
“In sum, the coming into effect of the Local Government Act, 2019 has settled the question of the election, tenure and eligibility for the re-election of deputy mayors and council chairpersons,” judge Mulembe said.
He added that it was thus, unnecessary for the court to interpret what the petitioners wanted because the same had been over taken by the events since there was a new Act in place.