The Constitutional Court has been told that the skills certificates and other qualifications Lundazi Central independent member of Parliament Lawrence Nyirenda posses are not equivalent to a grade 12 certificate.
The institutions which awarded Mr Nyirenda the said certificates are not recognized by the Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZAQA), chief executive officer Miriam Chiyabi explained to the court presided over by judge president Hildah Chibomba.
She said a General Certificate of Education (GCE) can only qualify to be a grade 12 certificate if it meets some level descriptors.
Losing Lundazi Central independent candidate in the 2016 general elections Colonel Bizwayo Nkunika has in this case petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare the Lundazi Central parliamentary seat vacant on the ground that the incumbent does not hold a full grade 12 certificate.
Col Nkunika cited Mr Nyirenda and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
He argues that the ECZ contravened Article 70 and 72 of the Constitution when it allowed Mr Nyirenda to contest the Lundazi Central seat without meeting the minimum qualifications and wants the court to declare the seat vacant and that ECZ should be ordered to hold elections within 90 days.
The court summoned the Zambia Qualifications Authority and the Examination Council of Zambia to appear before it and explain what constitutes a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.
This was after Nyirenda told the court that he did not know that a grade 12 certificate was constituted by five subjects.
And testifying before court, Chiyabi explained that the descriptors include: obtaining a pass in at least six subjects including English language with at least one of the six subjects being credit or better and also obtaining a pass in atleast five subjects including English language with atleast two of the five being credit or better.
“For a GCE to be equivalent to a Grade 12 certificate, a person needs to have six subjects or five passes,” Chiyabi said.
Asked in cross examination by Col Nkunika’s lawyer Chifumu Banda if Nyirenda’s military certificate is equivalent to an academic qualification, Chiyabi said: “On face value, no! It is not.”
Also asked if Nyirenda’s certificate of achievement awarded by Lundazi Provincial Teacher’s Resource Center was equivalent to a Grade 12 certificate, she said it was not because it was a short course and it was not given by an awarding body recognised by the authority.
And Examination Council of Zambia chief executive officer Dr Michael Chilala testified that the General Certificate of Education (GCE) in which Nyirenda passed English is not equivalent to a full grade 12 certificate.
Dr Chilala explained that the GCE examination runs on the same standards as the grade 12 examination.
He said the two were different when it comes to the way a certificate was awarded.
“The difference is that the GCE examination allows an individual to enter for one, two or three subjects. The GCE certificate can be awarded to a person who passes even one subject,” Dr Chilala said.
“A school certificate (on the other hand) is an academic qualification that is awarded to a person who satisfies one of the following two conditions in one and the same examination; (I) the person has obtained a pass in atleast six subjects including English language with atleast one of the six subjects being credit or better. (ii) if a person has obtained a pass in atleast five subjects including English language with atleast two of the five being credit or better.”
He also told court that four passes were registered on Nyirenda’s Grade 12 statement of results.
Dr Chilala however, said the four passes indicated were not equivalent to a school certificate because it requires a minimum of five subjects including English language, of which two should be credits.
Asked if Nyirenda’s copy of the GCE was authentic, Dr Chitala responded in the affirmative.
The court reserved its judgment to a date to be advised.