Emily Sikazwe sues State over dismal from ECZ
By Mwaka Ndawa
FORMER Electoral Commission of Zambia vice-chairperson Emily Sikazwe has petitioned the State in the Constitutional Court over her untimely dismissal from employment by President Hakainde Hichilema.
She charged that President Hichilema has breached constitutional provisions in relation to Article 216 and Article 242 as well as section 5(3) and 6(1) of electoral commission Act no. 25 of 2016 as (Amended) by Act no.5 of 2019 of the electoral commission Act by replacing the rule of law with the rule of man.
Sikazwe who has cited the Attorney General is seeking an order that the decision by the President to prematurely terminate her contract of employment which was scheduled to come to an end in 2027 is null and void and lacks merit.
She wants an order that the President contravened Article 216 and Article 242 of the Constitution chapter 1 of the laws of Zambia as read with section 5(3) and 6(1) of act no.25 of 2016 as amended by Act no.5 of 2019 of the electoral commission Act.
Sikazwe is demanding damages against the State for the President’s wrongful conduct in public office.
In her petition Sikazwe said she was appointed commissioner of ECZ from June 17, 2015 to June 17, 2022, which appointment was ratified by Parliament on June 17, 2015.
She said on June 16, 2020, she was appointed by former president Edgar Lungu to the position of vice-chairperson of ECZ, which appointment was ratified by parliment on September 30, 2020.
Sikazwe stated that she entered into a contract of employment on October 7, 2020 with the electoral body and by clause 2.0 of the said contract, her tenure of office was to run from October 7, 2020 to October 5, 2027.
She claimed that she diligently executed her duties by ensuring the commission acted in line with Section 3 of the electoral commission Act (Amendment) no. 5 of 2019 which functions include but are not limited to; Establishing and maintaining liaison and cooperation with political parties; providing information and advice to State organs on electoral matters; and applying the principles in the electoral system and process under the electoral commission Act of 2016.
“In contravention of the petitioners contract of employment, the current President through a letter dated June 7, 2022 and referenced ‘Notice of non renewal of your contract as ECZ vice chairperson’ notified the petitioner that her appointment which was allegedly expiring on June 17, 2022 would not be renewed for another term and directed her to immediately proceed on leave,” Sikazwe stated. “The said actions are also in contravention of the Articles of international Electoral bodies that Zambia is prescribed to such as the Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB). The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) ,The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) and the Electoral Commissions Forum of Southern African Development Countries.( ECF- SADC).”
Sikazwe said President Hichilema’s actions are frivolous and vexatious.
She is seeking a determination on whether the independence of the ECZ has been maintained as envisaged by Article 216 of the Constition.
Sikazwe wants the Court to pronounce itself on whether the President has unfettered powers extending to sending officers of the ECZ on leave.
“Whether the President’s interference with the workers of ECZ negates the promotion of conditions conducive to free, fair, credible and transparent elections or conversely raises an act of intimidation on the ECZ being independent and not fear or favour of the President,” Sikazwe questioned. “Whether the President did not breach the supremacy of the Constition inclusive of Article 3 by overthrowing, suspending or illegally abrogating the Constitution in issuing his letter dated June 7, 2022 to the petitioner by not following the national values and principles.”
She further wants a determination on whether the country is bound by the international agreements it entered into with regional and international election bodies.