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Friday, June 2, 2023

Meaning of the Constitutional Judgment on Independents

Problem is the  learned judges of the Constitutional Court, have made a strict  and literal interpretation of article 83(I) (g) (h) which provides that a member of parliament shall vacate his or her seat in parliament.

(g) if  the person leaves the party for which he or she stood as a candidate for election to parliament to join another party or to remain in parliament as an independent member.

Much as this article is a recent addition to our constitution to take care of the complex issues of independents, It doesn’t specify whether it’s application is limited to  the present or the next parliament. In my view article 83 is limited to the current parliament and not the next .

And if that’s the case , my interpretation is that this article doesn’t apply to nominations for seats in the next parliament – people are free to switch alliances or move from one political party to another or more still stand as independents  because  they are contesting for seats in another parliament and not the present one. The candidates for seats in the next parliament therefore need not to resign as per article 83  as declared by court.

The learned  judges again have erred in law by  interpreting article 83 in isolation of other provisions of the constitution especially article 72 which allows people to contest for elective positions on any political party platform they so wish.

One of the core principles of  constitutional interpretation is that the constitution should be ready and interpreted as a whole.

Another issue is that the judges have not addressed themselves to the transition period between nomination and swearing in of the next parliament.

Writer is Journalist and Advocate. To reach him please email msserwanga@gmail.com

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