By staff reporter
THE UPND and Sky Trails Limited have applied for leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the State and Zambia Airforce Commander Lieutenant General David Muma challenging his decision not to entertain their applications for clearance to privately fly UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to various parts of the country during the campaign period
The applicants are seeking an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the Airforce commander not to act upon the 15 applications for flying clearance which were submitted to him.
They want an order of mandamus compelling the Airforce commander to perform his Statutory functions under the provisions of the civil aviation Act and Statutory Instrument no.104 the aviation (aircraft navigation control) notice,1997.
In a notice of application for leave to apply for review, party secretary general Batuke Imenda said by virtue of the SI, the entire Zambian air space has been restricted and any person who intends to fly a private airplane is required to apply for flying clearance from the air commander at least 24 hours in advance.
He said in order for Hichilema to travel to various parts of the country for campaigns, Sky Trails submitted 15 applications for flying clearance to the air commander between July 22 and 29, 2021.
Imenda stated that despite Sky Trails having submitted 15 applications for flying clearance, the airforce commander has not acted upon the said applications and has not informed them the outcome of their applications or what steps they need to take to comply with or meet the requirements for the grant of flying clearances.
“Strangely, the same airforce commander has been quick to grant the applicants flying clearances for Southern, Western and North Western provinces but has not acted upon 15 applications for other provinces which are perceived to be strongholds of the Patriotic Front and denying Hichilema the opportunity to campaign in those areas,” Imenda said.
He contended that the Airforce commander’s failure, neglect or refusal to act upon their 15 applications for flying clearance had greatly prejudiced the UPND’s president and other candidates who have been forced to travel by road to various parts of the country to campaign.
“The commander has abused his Statutory duty by deliberately not acting on the applicant’s applications contrary to the purpose for which the Statutory power of administering SI.no.104 of 1997 has been conferred on him,” Imenda said.
He claimed that the failure by the Airforce commander to act upon his party’s application for clearance to allow Hichilema to be flown to various parts of the country was colored by political considerations.
Imenda said the airforce commander should not be guided by political or other irrelevant considerations nor should he discriminate against any applicant in the grant of such flying clearance.
He added that the campaign period ends tomorrow and the airforce commander’s decision not to act upon the UPND’s applications is not only irrational but calculated to disadvantage Hichilema.
Imenda said the airforce commander’s decision was illegal as it amounts to a refusal to perform his statutory duty.
In another matter, the UPND is challenging the decision by the ZNBC director general Malolela Lusambo to refuse to air the party’s campaign adverts during prime slots.
Imenda said the party and the national broadcaster entered into a contract to air its political adverts on radio and TV during its main news at 19:00 hours and 22:00 hours before the 19:00 hours news and during the presentation of local news.
He said the bellow advert was abruptly suspended on the basis that it insinuated that government was corrupt and five of the UPND’s adverts were rejected as the individuals in some of the adverts were clad in PF regalia and they would be injured, while for some ZNBC claimed they were directly attacking President Edgar Lungu.
Imenda wants an order of certiorari to quash the decision of the director general of ZNBC to decline to air the party’s adverts.
He also wants a declaration that the actions of ZNBC director general to reject some of the selected campaign advertisements is ultra vires Article 20 of the constitution section 7(1)(h)(j) and (m) of the ZNBC Act and electoral (code of conduct) regulations 2011 of the electoral Act Chapter 13 of the Zambian laws and is null and void.