THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is facing a lawsuit from some registered voters in Bulawayo for allegedly accepting nomination papers and candidature of members of various political parties, including the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) who filed their nomination papers outside the timeframes prescribed by the electoral law.
The Nomination Court sat on June 21 to accept papers from aspiring candidates. ZEC sat the next day to accommodate some aspiring candidates who had failed to file their papers on time.
The candidates from various parties which include Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Zapu, Free Zim Congress and the Zimbabwe African National Congress (ZANC) submitted their papers after the 4pm deadline.
ZEC has since published the final list of candidates participating in the August 23 harmonised elections.
Twelve urgent chamber applications for declaratory order were filed at the Bulawayo High Court on Friday night by registered voters in Bulawayo.
They are challenging ZEC’s decision to accept the nomination papers from the opposition party candidates.
Further, they are seeking the disqualification of the aspiring MPs for allegedly filing their nomination papers outside the timeframes.
One of the applicants, Ms Rachel Dube, a registered voter in Mpopoma/Mzilikazi constituency, filed the application under case number HC 1362/23 through her lawyers Cheda and Cheda Associates.
In papers before the court, she cited ZEC, its chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, the Bulawayo provincial elections officer Mr Innocent Ncube, Desmond Makaza (CCC candidate), Zwikwete Innocent Mbano (ZANC) and Strike Mkandla (independent candidate).
In her founding affidavit, Ms Dube said ZEC’s decision to accept the nomination papers from the cited respondents was an illegality which should be declared null and void.
“Prospective election participants were all in all accorded ample time to put their paperwork and affairs in order ahead of the nomination day. Regrettably, for some of the political outfits, this turned out not to be the case. The third, fourth and fifth respondents were election candidates of CCC, ZANC and independent candidate respectively in the Bulawayo Metropolitan Province and for the Mpopoma/Mzilikazi constituency,” she said.
“Despite the Nomination Court properly commencing at 10am on June 21, 2023, the nomination papers in relation to the third, fourth and fifth respondents were in disarray.”
Ms Dube said the disarray resulted in the disputed candidates being turned away by the Nomination Court in order to rectify the fatal defects that were in their nomination papers.
“By 4pm on 21 June 2023, the third, fourth and fifth respondents had not resubmitted their nomination papers before the Nomination Court. In addition, the respondents were also not within the Nomination Court room or premises,” she said.
“Instead, frantic and last minute efforts were being made by the respondents to comply with the requirements of procedure and the law.”
Ms Dube said the steps taken by the provincial elections officer were solely aimed at accommodating Makaza, Mbano and Mkandla and their colleagues from the same political parties in other constituencies in Bulawayo.
“In the premises, I have now approached this Honourable Court on an urgent basis seeking an order prohibiting ZEC from including the three respondents’ names in the preparation of ballot papers to be used in the general elections scheduled to be conducted on 23 August 2023,” she said.
“I acknowledge that Section 161 of the Electoral Act confers certain adjudicative powers within the context of electoral disputes in terms of the Act, on the Electoral Court. However, I am not a candidate in the upcoming elections but only a registered voter.”
Ms Dube said in terms of section 46(7) and (8) of the Electoral Act, the provincial elections officer erred by accepting the candidature of Makaza, Mbano and Mkandla.
“ZEC could not, by law, receive nomination papers after 4pm on 21 June 2023 where the three respondents and their agents were not present in the Nomination Court. However, the provincial elections officer proceeded to receive, consider and accept the nomination papers of Makaza, Mbano and Mkandla after 4pm,” she said.
“There was no factual or legal basis for Makaza, Mbano and Mkandla being permitted to submit their nomination papers after 4pm when the cut off time had undeniably lapsed. In conclusion I aver that this court application is urgent and pray that this Honourable Court intervenes in order to uphold the dictates of the law.”
Ms Dube wants an order declaring the decision by the provincial elections officer to accept the three respondents’ nomination papers null and void and set aside.
She also wants the respondents to jointly and severally pay the legal costs.
Mr Ncube presided over the Nomination Court in Bulawayo.
The respondents are yet to respond.
Last week, Zanu PF Treasurer General Cde Patrick Chinamasa said it was illegal for ZEC to receive and accept nomination papers awaiting the signature of some CCC officials in Harare at the time the Nomination Court closed at 4pm on June 21.
He said equally, it was illegal for ZEC to accept payments of nomination fees after 4pm on June 21 and to wait for the payment of a CCC member who was said to be in Harare at the closing of the Nomination Court.
CCC candidates who failed to meet the 4pm deadline are Surrender Kapoikulu of Bulawayo Central constituency, Minenhle Ntandoyenkosi Gumede (Bulawayo North), Nicola Jane Watson (Bulawayo South), Pashor Raphel Sibanda (Cowdray Park), Collins Descent Bajila (Emakhandeni-Luveve) and Dingilizwe Tshuma (Entumbane-Njube).
The other candidates are Prince Dube (Entumbane Njube), Dereck Gono (Lobengula-Magwegwe), Desmond Makaza (Mpopoma-Mzilikazi), Obert Manduna (Nketa), Desire Moyo (Nkulumane), Soneni Moyo (Pelandaba-Tshabalala), Gift Ostallos Siziba (Pelandaba Tshabalala), Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) and Albert Mhlanga (Pumula).