Nelson Chamisa suffers double blow as court gives Zanu PF candidates free pass to parliament

Former CCC leader Nelson Chamisa

A BULAWAYO High Court judge yesterday barred 12 parliamentary candidates from the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) from standing in next month’s election, handing three Zanu PF candidates, including Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, free tickets to Parliament.

In a double blow to the Nelson Chamisa-led CCC, Harare High Court judge Justice Neville Wamambo also dismissed an appeal by the opposition party challenging 17 “bogus” candidates it accused of forging officials’ signatures to file their nomination papers.

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Bongani Ndlovu disqualified the CCC candidates after 12 registered voters suspected to be Zanu PF members approached the courts seeking their disqualification for allegedly filing their nomination papers after the 4pm deadline on June 21.

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Nine other constituencies will, however, still be contested because they have more than three contesting parties.

In a judgment handed down on his behalf by Justice Nokuthula Moyo yesterday, Justice Ndlovu ruled that the applicants proved that the CCC candidates filed their papers after the stipulated deadline.

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“It is ordered that the first respondent (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is prohibited from including the names of the following respondents in the preparation of ballot papers to be used in the general election scheduled for August 23, 2023.

“The respondents shall jointly and severally pay the cost of the suit,” Justice Moyo said.

Zanu PF candidates Ncube (Cowdray Park), Industry deputy minister Raj Modi (Bulawayo South) and Tendai Charuka (Bulawayo Central) could benefit from the ruling if CCC’s appeal is not successful as they will be left uncontested.

But CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said they would appeal the ruling.

“Citizens have the right to nominate candidates within the ambit of the law and to be represented by Members of Parliament (MPs) that they choose in a free and fair election,” Mahere said.

In a statement, Mahere said the disqualification of the 12 CCC National Assembly candidates “is uncostitutional and further confirmation that Zanu PF can never win a free and fair election in Zimbabwe”.

“The decision militates against citizens’ right to vote in leaders of their choice. Section 117 of the Constitution unequivocally states that the legislative authority of Zimbabwe is derived from the people, not Zanu PF or any other State institution,” Mahere said.

“Accordingly, the thinly-veiled attempt to impose candidates on the citizens of Bulawayo is a dark stain on our democracy and confirms that Zimbabwe is now a full-blown dictatorship, worse than (under) Robert Mugabe.

“Yet even worse, Robert Mugabe never tried to brazenly remove opponents he knew he would lose against from the ballot.”

Mahere argued that the disqualified candidates filed their nomination papers “well within the time limits stipulated by the electoral law”, adding that this fact “was admitted by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which is the constitutional and administrative body mandated to receive nomination papers within the ambit of the Constitution and the Electoral Act”.

CCC lawyer Thabani Mpofu said: “We respectfully disagree with it (ruling) and will be taking the necessary legal steps to ensure that elections are held.

“Candidates must continue with their work undeterred.”

The applicants had cited Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) Bulawayo elections officer Innocent Ncube, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and the respective CCC candidates as respondents.

In court, lawyers representing the CCC candidates submitted that the case was based on hearsay (and) without any evidence.

Zec lawyer Tawanda Kanengoni had also opposed the application, saying the applicants had approached the wrong court.

Kanengoni prayed for the court to “decline jurisdiction” and dismiss the application.

Mpofu submitted that the applicants were not physically present before the nomination court and had no evidence that CCC candidates filed their nomination papers outside the deadline.

“Nomination court outcome does not give right to challenge it because that right is purposively accorded if they show a legal interest,” Mpofu submitted.

“Applicant’s legal interest should be in voting and if that right is taken away, then they can go to court, but as applicants, they have no right to tell people who want to vote for the other side that they don’t vote for opposition candidates.”

Mpofu said the case was politically-motivated and sponsored by Zanu PF.

Another CCC lawyer, Welshman Ncube, submitted that the applicants’ attempt to remove the nomination of opposition candidates based on hearsay was inadmissible in court.

In Harare, Justice Wamambo ruled that the CCC approached the court with the wrong law in challenging the double candidates. He also said the nomination papers submitted were not different.

The judge also ruled that the issue of signatures could only be verified by an expert.

Mpofu had challenged Zec saying it registered the candidates under their party despite them providing specimens of signatures of persons from their party who were allowed to sign for candidates.

Kanengoni argued that prior to elections, there was no letter that provided a specimen logo.

“There was no reasonable suspicious that the nomination officer would suspect that this is not the CCC logo.

“The signatures, I don’t know what aspects of that signature the appellant has made,” Kanengoni submitted.

“When you look at those signatures, there is no real basis where you can say they are different.

“They are substantially similar.

“Any nomination officer who looks at the specimens and the nomination papers would not say they look different. None of us are experts in that.”

— NewsDay

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