In a case that could come as a test to the court’s impartiality, a Bulawayo voter has filed a High Court challenge against deputy industry minister Rajesh Kumar Modi’s candidacy, claiming the Zanu PF candidate for Bulawayo South filed his nomination papers after the 4PM deadline when the nomination court sat June this year.
Raymond Dudzayi Gombeza filed his urgent chamber application through the Bulawayo High Court.
He states that the decision by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) nomination officer Innocent Ncube to accept Modi’s papers was in violation of the electoral law.
Modi is one of the two Zanu PF candidates who could go into the August 23 elections unchallenged after the High Court issued a ban on 12 CCC Bulawayo candidates for filing their papers beyond the regulated hours.
The court action that saw the ouster of the opposition candidates was engineered by some Zanu PF activists.
Gombeza cited Ncube as the first respondent in his application while ZEC, Modi and the ZEC chairperson are listed as second to fourth respondents, respectively.
In his application, Gombeza said when the nomination court sat on June 21, Modi’s papers were not in order.
“The disarray resulted in Modi being turned away by the nomination court in order to rectify the fatal defects that were in his papers,” he said.
“By 4PM, Modi had not submitted nomination papers before the nomination court. In addition, Modi was not within the nomination court room and or premises.
“Instead, frantic and last minute efforts were being made by Modi to comply with the requirements of procedure at law.”
He added, “Notwithstanding and surprisingly, the nomination court presided over by Ncube proceeded to consider and accept the nomination papers of Modi after 4PM on 21 June 2023 (even though Modi was not even within the court itself).”
Gombeza said court sat the following day for purposes of accepting Modi’s papers.
He said ZEC and Ncube were in contradiction of the laws when this was done.
Supporting his application, Gombeza said his direct and substantial interest in the matter was spurred by his standing as a Zimbabwean citizen and registered voter in Modi’s Bulawayo South constituency.
“In these capacities, I have an undeniable interest in all persons seeking to represent me, and the legality of their nomination.
“I cannot, in earnest, turn a blind eye to unlawful nominations with the capacity of giving rise to unlawful elections.
“The issues concerned herein are therefore in no way abstract, academic, or hypothetical – whether in respect of me or the general voting populace.
“I accordingly aver that I have a direct and substantial interest in the subject matter of the suit which could be prejudicially affected by the judgment of the Court,” he submitted.
Gombeza said there was therefore no factual or legal basis for the continued consideration and acceptance of Modi’s nomination papers, after the adjournment, and during a non-nomination day.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.
The court challenge could be a big test to the Bulawayo High Court’s impartiality as it is the same court that issued the ban on opposition candidates.
The opposition argues Zimbabwean courts have been “captured” by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF administration to a point of issuing judgements that were against the ruling party’s opponents.
Asked by journalists over the matter, Mnangagwa on Friday issued a curt dismissal of the accusations saying he has never personally taken any opponent to court seeking their disqualification from any race.