Electoral Court pulls a shocker over Chegutu West parliamentary election case

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The Electoral Court has dismissed with costs the electoral petition lodged by MDC Alliance candidate, Gift Konjana, for the Chegutu West constituency national assembly seat in the 2018 harmonised polls.

Konjana was seeking the invalidation of Dexter Nduna’s victory in the 2018 polls.

Zec had initially announced Nduna as the winner with 10 932 votes, and Konjana with 10 828 votes, before the latter challenged the result, claiming Zec mixed up the figures. But while Zec reportedly admitted to have made an error, the electoral body advised Konjana that the results could only be overturned by the Electoral Court.

According to a V23 form — the basis upon which the declaration was made — Nduna won the seat by 10 932 votes ahead of Konjana who garnered 10 828.

But the MDC Alliance candidate has alleged a tabulation error occurred and prejudiced him of 120 votes erroneously awarded to one Simon Kache of UCADPGPZ. Information at hand suggests that Kache got a single vote at a polling station while Konjana polled 121, but the data was mixed up. Had the mix-up not occurred, Nduna could have lost the race by four votes, but he won by a margin of 116 votes.

In the ruling of the Electoral Court handed down by Justice Mary Zimba Dube, the petition lodged by Konjana did not meet the rules governing election petitions.

The petitioner sought an order setting aside the declaration by the Constituency Elections Officer of Dexter Nduna as the duly elected member of the national assembly for Chegutu West constituency in the harmonised elections held on 30 July 2018.

Additionally, the petitioner sought an order of the court declaring him the duly elected member of the national assembly for Chegutu West constituency.

Konjana also sought the Registrar of the Electoral Court to be directed to serve a copy of the order nullifying Nduna’s victory to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Clerk of Parliament of Zimbabwe and finally he sought for the respondents to bear the costs of the suit.

In her order, Justice Dube found the petition fatally defective in that it did not comply with the requirements of Rule 21.

She registered her misgivings at the failure by the applicant’s lawyers to follow the rules of practice.

She added that the arrangement of the petition failed to meet the strict rules of procedure and therefore the court was left with no option but to dismiss the matter before delving into its merits as the court’s residual power to condone infractions in electoral matters is curtailed.

The court dismissed the petition with costs and ordered the Registrar of the Electoral Court to serve a copy of the court order on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Clerk of the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

— ZBC


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