Dissolution of Zambia’s MMD overturned in court
LUSAKA – A Zambian High Court yesterday overturned the dissolution of the former ruling party over unpaid fees, arguing the move had been excessive and against the country’s general interest.
The Movement for Multiparty Democracy, whose 20-year rule came to an end in September, was dissolved by the chief registrar of societies in March for owing 390 million kwacha (N$637 358) in registration fees dating back to 1993.
It also faced being stripped of its parliamentary seats.
“The said hereby deregistration is quashed as it was excessive and unwarranted,” said High Court Judge Jane Kabuka.
Kabuka argued chief registrar Clement Andeleki could have simply fined the party for failing to pay its annual fees.
“I find the cancellation of the MMD disproportionate, it could not have been taken in good faith and this is a mutilation of the tenets of democracy,” she told the court.
“The decision was not in the public interest as the MMD is one of the big parties in this country,” she added.
The deregistration was announced less than six months after the party lost power to President Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front in elections that ended its 20-year stint at the helm of the copper-rich nation.
At the time, it had 53 seats in the 150-member parliament but is now left with 50 following the death of a lawmaker and the nullification of two seats owing to electoral malpractices.
The party won a reprieve in March after a high court ruled that its dissolution, described by former president and party leader Rupiah Banda as an attack on democracy, could only be determined by a court.
MMD national secretary Richard Kachingwe told reporters that the party was happy with the judgment as the dissolution of the MMD would have deprived Zambians of a credible opposition party.
“This is a wonderful judgment because us the powerless rush to courts when we are aggrieved. The decision was with malice because we saw that immediately he was appointed his first task was to deregister the MMD,” he said.
“His decision would have deprived Zambians of a credible opposition and this is a wonderful day for us.”
Andeleki said he would first have to study the ruling before commenting on whether an appeal would be considered. – Nampa-AFP