OPPOSITION MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa has vowed to “do everything possible” to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to reverse its decision to accept his arch-nemesis Thokozani Khupe’s nomination papers to contest the July 30 general elections under the MDC-T banner.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda, yesterday accused Zec of playing political games using Khupe in a sinister attempt to “confuse the people”.
“Zec acted illegally. They violated Chapter 26 and, in particular, Section 10 of the Electoral Act. The commission should not have accepted Khupe’s papers with the same symbol under the banner of the MDC-T because we had submitted our papers first. In this case, the referee is not fair and we have a firm belief that they are biased or they are deliberately out to cause confusion within the electorate,” Sibanda said.
He added: “If indeed Zec was fair and wanted to play an impartial arbiter, they should have asked Khupe to demand her right to the symbol through the courts. The president (Chamisa) will challenge this and cause Zec to follow the law. We will force Zec to reverse this decision.”
Chamisa and Khupe have a pending court case where they are fighting over use of the MDC-T party symbols.
But, Zec chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana said he was unaware of Chamisa’s complaint and would need to study the symbols first.
“I am not aware of their complaint. I am not sure if they have written to us, but I would also need to study the symbols for me to comment,” he said.
According to Sibanda, the MDC Alliance completed its processes with the nomination court on June 12 and duly paid its nomination fees the following day.
“Effectively we were registered and Zec should not have accepted Khupe’s nomination papers bearing a symbol that is similar or resembles ours. Khupe’s election agents only registered with Zec on the day of the nomination court, hours after we had already been confirmed as duly nominated.”
Chamisa’s MDC Alliance uses an open palm with the youthful opposition leader’s face in the middle, while Khupe has adopted the same open palm symbol, but with the picture of a child in the middle.
Section 46 (10) of the Electoral Act says: “Subject to subsections (8) and (9), the nomination officer in open court shall reject any nomination paper lodged with him or her at any time — (a) if he or she considers that any symbol or abbreviation specified therein in terms of paragraph (b) or (c) of subsection (1) — (iii) so closely resembles — A. The symbol of any other candidate contesting the election in the constituency concerned; or B. The recognised symbol or abbreviation of any political party, other than the political party, if any, for which the candidate concerned is standing or which is sponsoring him or her; as to be likely to cause confusion.”
But Khupe’s deputy Obert Gutu described Chamisa’s claims as “hogwash.”
“It’s absolute nonsense. Our symbol was not registered with Zec on the day of the nomination court, but months ago. These people are on a wild goose chase trying to stop us, but we are on solid legal ground. Whatever we have done is above board and Zec is headed by a respected judge of the High Court [Justice Priscilla Chigumba].
“They have tried to go to court to stop us but have failed. They will fail again,” Gutu said.