Chamisa’s Parliamentary candidates’ legal woes mount

Professor Welshman Ncube and Advocate Thabani Mpofu at the Bulawayo High Court
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BULAWAYO – A new court application has been filed at the Bulawayo High Court to prevent the 12 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) parliamentary candidates from running in the August 23, 2023 elections.

This comes after the Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Bongani Ndlovu reserved judgement in a previous case, in which 12 registered voters are challenging the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), CCC candidates and other opposition candidates alleging that their nomination papers were accepted illegally after the deadline of 4 pm on June 21, 2023.

Justice Ndlovu said he would make a judgement based on the case merits and issue a decision on both the preliminary points and merits at the same time.

The new application, filed by 12 members of the Elected Early Democrats political party, cites the 12 CCC candidates as the first respondents, ZEC Bulawayo Provincial Elections Officer (PEO) Innocent Ncube as the second respondent, ZEC and its Chairperson as the third and fourth respondents, respectively.

Elected Early Democrats party members, represented by Messers Maseko Law Chambers, want an order declaring ZEC PEO’s actions allowing CCC members to file their papers outside of the 4 pm time ruled as illegal, or to be given the opportunity to submit their nomination paper after the deadline.

“The applicant seeks an order setting aside the decision of the second respondent to allow or alternatively the same extension that was afforded to first respondent to be afforded to the Applicant who was disqualified for failure to observe timelines,” read the application.

A reading of this new application reveals that the litigants addressed the concerns and technicalities raised last week when the High Court heard the case of the registered voters from Wednesday to Thursday.

Elected Early Democrats members filed this application with the Electoral Court while in the previous case, the respondents’ lawyers contended that the High Court has no jurisdiction over election matters.

The new litigants also address the “hearsay” concern presented by the respondents’ lawyers, claiming to have been present at the Nomination Court on June 21, 2023.

Shiela Mafu, one of the applicants, claims she came to Tredgold Magistrate Court at 3 pm to file her nomination papers.

“At the time I arrived at the Nomination Court, our party president had not authorised our party candidates to submit nomination papers as we were waiting for funds, at that point I was inside the Nomination Court advising my party of other requirements needed for nominations,” she said.

“My party leader then authorised the party candidates and disbursed funds. I only got to have my authorised papers together with funds at around 4:04 pm on June 21, 2023 and upon presenting them I was told I was barred.”.

Mafu claims she was advised she could not bring her documents for nomination as such would be in contravention of the Electoral Act, since the deadline was 4 pm, which she obliged to.

She, however, alleges that she noticed CCC members who were in the “same predicament” pleading with the ZEC PEO who then allowed them to file their nomination papers.

“I enquired as to why this was being done and I was manhandled by the members of CCC. I have seen members of the CCC alluding to this fact in one of their affidavits that is before this court. I attach the affidavit as Annexure B,” Mafu said, claiming she “tried to reason with the members of the ZRP who again refused that I enter the courtroom.”

The applicant stated the decision of the ZEC PEO to accept the nomination papers of the CCC out of the stipulated deadline is an act of illegality that illegally benefits the candidates.

“In extension, the applicant claims that ZEC through its PEO “erred when it included names of individuals who had failed to submit valid nomination forms on time.”

“Second respondent’s actions are not a one-man show. This is so because every decision that the second respondent makes should be made in terms of the law under which the second respondent derives its power and mandate to operate and run our country’s electoral processes. Late submission of Nomination Forms is in breach of Section 46 (7) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 1:13),” said the applicant.

Magu further said in extension ZEC “erred by allowing Nomination Court to sit on a non-nomination day when it remained open to receive nominations on June 22, 2023 in breach of Section 46(8) of the Electoral Act. Nominations for candidates who submitted their papers after midnight June 21 should have been declared null and void.”

Hearing of this case is most likely to start on Monday at the Bulawayo High Court.

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