THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed an interim injunction order against the Patriotic Front (PF) by members of Parliament (MPs) who challenged their expulsion from the party.
This is in a case in which 26 MPs had obtained an interim court order restraining the PF from expelling them for taking part in the National Constitutional Conference (NCC).
Delivering judgement yesterday, High Court Judge Gregory Phiri said the MPs had not sufficiently shown what irreparable injury would occur if withdrawn from the NCC.
The MPs were seeking that PF leader Michael Sata and secretary general Edward Mumbi be restrained from expelling them or interfering with their rights as MPs and that they were formally appointed to the NCC which they regarded as a continuation process from Parliament where they enacted the NCC Act as part of their civic duty.
The judge noted that the applicants’ quest was to sustain the interim injunction order against the party.
The effect of the interim injunction order, he said, was to oust the defendants’ intended decisions against the applicants’ pending trial and determination of their intra-party dispute on the merits.
He noted that both the applicants and the intervener had not sufficiently shown what irreparable injury would occur to the applicants in the event that their membership was withdrawn from the NCC before their rights were determined at trial.
The State was part of the case as interveners in the matter and was represented by the solicitor general.
“I am of the view that the applicants have failed to satisfy me that the nature of injury they would suffer is such that it cannot be atoned for in damages which the court could easily quantify and award against the defendants in the event that the applicants are successful in the main action,” he said.
He observed that court cases took long to complete and that the courts were generally not suitable for intra-political party disputes.
Mr Justice Phiri stated that the applicants’ contention was that the order was necessary because each member of the PF had a right to participate in a democratic establishment, which the PF needed and that members should be allowed to agree or disagree.
Mr Justice Phiri noted that the case only affected a small number of the members of the PF as compared to the general membership of that party.
He agreed with the defendants’ lawyer, Bonaventure Mutale that, according to the present authorities of the law, declaratory orders and judgements were discouraged when other reliefs were available.
He said it was only after trial that the court could determine whether the PF party was democratic or not and whether the applicants, as members, would be denied their right to participate in party politics within the PF and what extent their participation must be.
He said the circumstances of the action were extraordinary in a number of ways as they were about a dispute between members of the same political club and that the dispute was about members’ right to participate in the constitution-making process in compliance with the current law or to stay out as ordered by the defendants.
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