THE Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) yesterday filed an appeal at the Supreme Court to challenge a High Court ruling that disqualified its 12 aspiring parliamentary candidates in Bulawayo.
High Court judge Justice Bongani Ndlovu on Thursday ruled that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) erred in accepting the nomination papers from the candidates after the 4pm deadline when the nomination court sat on June 21.
“Our lawyers confirm that they have filed an appeal against the judgment under case number SCB86/23,” CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere confirmed.
“The noting of the appeal suspends the operation of the judgment. Our candidatures are accordingly still on the ballot and remain there until the appeal is heard and determined.”
The High Court ruling had given Zanu PF three seats, namely Cowdray Park, Bulawayo South and Bulawayo North.
Nine other seats were still going to have an election as there were more than three contesting parties.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court yesterday dismissed an appeal by self-exiled presidential candidate Saviour Kasukuwere who was challenging his disqualification.
Kasukuwere’s team said they would lodge an appeal.
Supreme Court judges Justices Chinembiri Bhunu, George Chiweshe and Susan Mavangira unanimously upheld a High Court ruling disqualifying Kasukuwere’s candidacy.
“We carefully considered the evidence and oral submissions by both counsels.
“The court is of the view the appeal lacks merit. The appeal be and is hereby dismissed with no order as to costs,” the judges ruled.
A Zanu PF activist, Lovedale Mangwana, had challenged Kasukuwere’s candidacy saying he was not eligible to contest having been out of the country for over 18 months.
Election watchdogs yesterday said the August 23 election has been thrown into a credibility crisis because of an avalanche of court cases following the June 21 nominations court.
They said citizens’ rights to vote and choose their leaders of choice had been trampled upon.
“The courts have a primary duty to promote the fundamental rights of citizens which include political rights of citizens, their practice must promote democracy,” Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga told NewsDay Weekender.
“However, in the 2023 environment, it has taken a very strict and restrictive approach towards the expansion of political rights.”
Tsunga said the judgments were questionable.
“The (Judiciary’s) conduct has eroded citizen trust in the Judiciary which will impact on its ability to independently arbitrate on any post-election dispute and secondly, for parties and citizens to actually accept whatever outcome results from the courts,” he said.
Zimbabwe Elections Advocacy Trust director Ignatius Sadziwa said there was a clear weaponisation of the law against the opposition.
“The weaponisation of the law and meddling by the Judiciary in democratic processes is a clear sign that the impending elections are a foregone conclusion and its aftermath will be disputed,” Sadziwa said.
“This is a sad chapter for Zimbabwe’s constitutional democracy, where the integrity and credibility of the Judiciary is put in question. The principle of separation of powers has been eroded unfortunately.”
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the election process had been tainted by the court cases.
“This can only confirm that our electoral processes are tainted with partisan judgements, it only proves how compromised and captured the judiciary is,” he said.
“Discredited yes, disputed not necessarily because it’s possible to prevail under the current circumstances like Zambia. We can only coin a phrase ‘litigation democracy’.”
Church leader Kenneth Mtata, said the country was “heading towards the most discredited and disputed election”.
“Our Constitution is at the throes of death. We the people must come to its rescue so that it can preserve our collective future,” Mtata said. – News Day