POLL PARTICIPATION POLITICS
Zimbabwean high court bars 12 opposition parliamentary candidates from contesting August 23 elections
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party took an early lead in the 23 August general elections after a court disqualified 12 parliamentary candidates of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party from participating in the polls.
A Bulawayo High Court judge on Thursday, 27 July, barred 12 parliamentary candidates of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), led by Nelson Chamisa, from taking part in the 23 August general elections after finding that they filed their nomination papers late.
The Zanu-PF activists who filed the court application claimed that the opposition candidates filed their nomination papers after the 4pm deadline that the nomination court set on 21 June. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had opposed the application, arguing the opposition candidates had filed on time.
Justice Bongani Ndlovu’s ruling means that CCC cannot have any senatorial representation in Bulawayo Province or take up any National Assembly seats for the youth and women’s quota where seats are allocated based on proportional representation according to the number of votes each party gets in parliamentary polls.
The ruling also means that Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, a technocrat who was being subjected to an election for the first time, has effectively been duly elected as a parliamentarian.
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CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said her party would lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court that would effectively suspend the high court ruling.
“The CCC will appeal against the Bulawayo judgment. Citizens have the right to nominate candidates within the ambit of the law and to be represented by MPs that they choose in a free and fair election. The right to parliamentary representation of choice is sacred,” Mahere said.
Moments after the Bulawayo judgment was pronounced, a Harare high court judge dismissed an application filed by opposition leader Linda Masarira of the Labour Economists & Afrikan Democrats party challenging the refusal by the electoral commission to accept her nomination papers to contest the presidency.
Justice Gladys Mhuri did not give full reasons for her judgment and only read the operative part. Masarira said she would take the necessary steps after familiarising herself with the full reasons of the court.
“At this stage we cannot say much before we get the reasons of the court. We are going to make a decision after reading the full judgment,” Masarira said.
Masarira failed to submit her nomination papers after she could not deposit the money required by the nomination court for her to stand as a presidential candidate after encountering administrative problems with the banks.
Justice Mhuri’s ruling means that the leader of the United Zimbabwe Alliance party, Elisabeth Valerio, will be the only woman presidential candidate after she successfully challenged her exclusion from the presidential race.
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Meanwhile, the Supreme Court adjourned to Friday a hearing in which independent presidential candidate Savior Kasukuwere, a former Cabinet minister in Robert Mugabe’s government, is challenging his disqualification from taking part in the poll.
The high court barred Kasukuwere from running for the country’s top post after it found favour with an application filed by a Zanu-PF activist, Lovedale Mangwana, who argued that Kasukuwere could not stand as a presidential candidate because he had stayed out of Zimbabwe for more than 18 months.
Kasukuwere was a kingpin in a faction of the ruling Zanu-PF party calling itself Generation 40, which unsuccessfully campaigned for former first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years before he was forced to resign following a military coup in November 2017.
The opposition has repeatedly accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of capturing the courts – an allegation that his party has denied. DM