Court has dismissed with costs a petition by presidential aspirant Joseph Kabuleta that was seeking to block the COVID-19 induced ‘scientific election’ set in motion by Electoral Commission (EC) for the 2021 election campaigns.
In June 2020, Kabuleta and Dr. Emmanuel Diini Kisembo petitioned the Civil Division of the High Court seeking to block the elections. The two filled the suit in court after EC announced that there would be no campaign rallies and that all candidates in the forthcoming polls would campaign for votes through media in what was termed as ‘scientific general elections’ to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The two wanted the court to block the guidelines claiming that they infringe on the right to transparent, free and fair elections, and that they interfere with freedom of independence of the aspiring candidates to carry out public campaign meetings as provided for under the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005.
The petitioners also wanted the court to direct the EC to carry out nationwide consultations on the matter with key stakeholders before any new guidelines for the 2020/2021 general elections are issued.
Presiding over the petition, Justice Esta Nambayo dismissed the case saying that it would be improper for the court to make declarations on guidelines that are not in existence. She ruled that court cannot issue declarations on non-existent guidelines which are based on just a mere press release issued by the EC as there is evidence from the electoral body that guidelines for the 2021 general elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be issued after consultation from relevant stakeholders.
“There were no guidelines in place when the EC issued the press statement. The guidelines were to be issued in due course after the commission had engaged the stakeholders,” Justice Nambayo said.
Basing on this, judge Nambayo upheld the EC’s objection that the case is bad in law and ordered Kabuleta to pay costs to the EC.
The judge also declined a request by the applicant’s lawyers to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court for interpretation saying that there is nothing to interpret.