In a landmark ruling, Thursday, the Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Bongani Ndlovu said the 12 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) parliamentary candidates and a few others from running in the August 2023 polls, did not present a comprehensive version of what exactly happened on June 21, 2023, when the Nomination Court sat.
The ruling came after 12 registered voters filed a complaint with the court, alleging that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had illegally accepted the nomination papers of the candidates after the deadline of 4 pm on June 21, 2023.
Justice Ndlovu ruled that the Nomination Court closed at 4 pm, which meant that it was no longer sitting in open court by the time the respondents were before the ZEC Provincial Elections Officer (PEO).
The judge further stated that the time frames provided in Annexure B by the applicants were evidence, despite ZEC and its officials indicating that the document was not a time submission form.
Justice Ndlovu said the respondents tended to be satisfied with denying the allegations, and that it would have made the court’s work less difficult if the parties had given a blow-by-blow account of their allegations and defences.
In the judgment, Justice Ndlovu said the factual question is what happened or did not happen at 4pm on the day in question in respect of each respondent.
He said the ZEC PEO stated in his affidavit that he only interacted with the individual respondents when they submitted their nomination papers. Annexure B shows when each respondent submitted his or her nomination papers. Annexure B is a document compiled by public officials during the course of their duty in service of the State.
Justice Ndlovu said he found it strange and improbable that the majority of the respondents filed their nomination papers long after 4 pm. He said the explanation given by the ZEC PEO and his staffers was false.
Justice Ndlovu said from the evidence available, he came to the conclusion that the respondents except one, submitted their nomination papers in violation of the law.
He said the separation of the papers from the respondents through the medium of the police officer was unlawful.
Justice Ndlovu said he had also been moved by both sides of the bar to give Section 46 (7) and (8) of the Electoral Act the golden rule of interpretation.
He ruled that the ZEC PEO therefore, “violated the provisions of the Electoral Act in that regard as he also did close to midnight when he adjourned to 22 June 2022.”