High Court upholds MMD registration
The Lusaka High Court has quashed the decision by the Registrar of Societies to deregister the former ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democratic (MMD).
On March 14, the Registrar of Societies announced that the MMD, the party that lost last September’s election after two decades in power, would cease to operate as a political party due to the alleged non-payment of dues over the past 20 years.
The registrar called for by-elections for the 53 parliamentary seats held by the MMD.
The party disputed his and sought the High Court’s intervention to review the matter, and an order to declare Registrar of Societies Clement Andeleki’s decision null and void.
High Court judge Jane Kabuka declared the de-registraion of MMD, illegal, null and void this morning.
Commenting on the court’s decision, MMD national secretary Major Richard Kachingwe said the decision by the court was an indictment to the popularity of the party, which has over two million members countrywide and was “the most popular opposition party in the country.”
“The decision by the court is a very good decision. This is where we seek refuge. Governments in Africa tend to have too much power but people have where to seek refuge,” he said.
Recently, and international ratings agency, Fitch, downgraded Zambia’s international rating from stable to unstable citing political concerns, which included the deregistration of the MMD.
The downgrade reflected Fitch’s concerns about some of the government’s early actions and announcements, which have brought into question the direction of government policy.
It is not obligatory under the Act for the Registrar to suspend a society that has not paid its dues. Furthermore, a society should be given at least 21 days to respond to any allegations. In addition, the Registrar does not have the authority to dismiss elected parliamentarians and call for by-elections.
“The Registrar may therefore have overstepped its mandate,” Fitch stated at the time.
The agency stated that the matter would highlight the risks associated with sending a negative message on matters relating to economic policy, property rights and respect for the rule of law.