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High Court set to rule on electoral challenge

HARARE – High Court judge Justice Bongani Ndlovu will today decide on the preliminary points that were argued in an application where 12 registered voters in Bulawayo are contesting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s decision to accept nomination papers of political parties’ members who submitted their papers late.

The Nomination Court sat on June 21 to accept papers from aspiring candidates for the upcoming August 23 harmonized elections. However, to accommodate some aspiring candidates who missed the deadline, ZEC held a subsequent session the following day.

The challenge was brought forward by twelve registered voters in Bulawayo, represented by Cheda and Cheda Associates, who are contesting ZEC’s decision to accept the nomination papers from opposition party candidates. They are seeking the disqualification of aspiring MPs who allegedly filed their nomination papers after the 4 pm deadline.

Among the cited respondents are Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Zapu, Free Zim Congress, and the Zimbabwe African National Congress (ZANC) candidates. The applicants argue that accepting the nomination papers from these candidates after the prescribed cutoff time was illegal and should be declared null and void.

Ms. Rachel Dube, one of the applicants and a registered voter in the Mpopoma/Mzilikazi constituency, lodged the application under case number HC 1362. In her founding affidavit, Ms. Dube stated that the nomination papers of the cited respondents were in disarray despite the Nomination Court commencing properly at 10 AM on June 21. She asserted that the accommodation of certain candidates after the deadline had lapsed was a violation of the Electoral Act.

While the opposition parties’ candidates were represented by prominent lawyers, including Professor Welshman Ncube and Advocate Thabani Mpofu, ZEC opposed the application, arguing that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Electoral Court, a specialized division of the High Court.

Today, Justice Ndlovu is set to rule on preliminary arguments before the case proceeds on its merits.