Members of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) who were supposed to be on the provincial/metropolitan party list for council in Bulawayo have filed an urgent court application accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of depriving them the opportunity to submit their candidate nomination papers.
The ten CCC members are asking the Bulawayo High Court to order ZEC to enable them to submit their candidate names and reverse the subsequent election of the Zanu PF provincial council candidates who stood unopposed.
According to CCC, Zanu PF exploited the nomination court process to make it administratively difficult for the opposition party to submit forms for its candidates, causing them to fail to submit the names of candidates for the 10 provincial council seats in Bulawayo.
Provincial or Metropolitan Council seats are filled using the results of the harmonised elections, taking into consideration the total number of votes collected by the Lower House of Assembly candidates from each political party.
In the urgent chamber application prepared by Messrs Ncube Attorneys, the 10 applicants are CCC members named Aquilina Kayidza Pamberi, Tinashe Kambarami, Memory Ndlovu, Promise Dalubuhle Mkwananzi, Caroline Mapako, Garikayi Mugova, Kwanele Bango, Brian Gumbo, Gladys Mathe and Tawanda Ruzive.
ZEC Bulawayo Provincial Elections Officer, Innocent Ncube is cited as the first respondent, as he was the presiding officer of the Nomination Court, while ZEC is the second respondent.
The other respondents cited are the Zanu PF candidates who were duly elected: Manala Motsi, Eddie Dube, Kundai Nyika, Golden Ndlovu, Mnothisi Nsingo, Moleen Dube and Mlungisi Moyo, who are third to tenth respondents respectively.
Their application argues that the PEO “unlawfully” refused to give the CCC members a chance to submit their candidacy nomination papers for the Bulawayo Provincial Council after 4pm, claiming they were all present and prepared to do so at the Nomination Court that sat at Tredgold Building.
“The first respondent acted contrary to the proviso to Section 46(7) of the Electoral Act and therefore unlawfully when he refused to allow applicants an opportunity to file a nomination paper for candidature to the Bulawayo Provincial Council after 16h00 when they were each present at the nomination court and ready to file a nomination paper,” read the application.
“The first Respondent, therefore, violated the audi alterem partem rule by refusing to permit the Applicants to present their nomination papers for consideration alongside those of the second to ninth respondents.”
The CCC members also said the PEO’s denial of their request to submit fresh nomination papers was unjustifiable given the circumstances of this case and further stated that Ncube violated Section 46(7) of the Electoral Act.
Section 46(7) of the Electoral Act, provides that if a candidate or his agent is present in the nomination court and ready to submit a nomination paper in respect of the candidate, at 4pm, the nomination officer is obliged to give him an opportunity to do so.
The applicants are seeking the Court to review and overturn the decision made not to allow them to submit their forms.
“Consequently: the first respondent’s decision to refuse applicants the opportunity to present a nomination paper for the Bulawayo Provincial Council be and is hereby reviewed and set aside.”
They also want the declaration of the Zanu PF candidates as duly elected members of the Bulawayo Provincial Council set aside.
The applicants also want the PEO and ZEC to accept and review the Bulawayo Provincial Council nomination papers they submitted, adding if any party objects to their application, they will pay the legal fees.
They claimed they attended Nomination Court early in the morning and that “the process of submission of the nomination papers was unfortunately extremely slow as it involved a lot of people intent on doing so for different elective public offices.”
The elective office included the lower House of Assembly seats, Senate, Women’s Quota, Youth Quota and the Provincial Council.
“We waited our turn to have our list submitted and it was indeed presented to the first respondent by the seventh applicant, Kwanele Bango on behalf of us all as the applicants,” read the application.
The CCC members claimed before the PEO could make a decision on the nomination papers submitted from them, “there was sudden pandemonium inside the nomination court” and “by the time order was restored, the PEO had apparently lost our nomination papers.”
“The first respondent failed to properly keep our nomination papers secure and as a result lost them,” read the application.
The applicants said they asked Ncube to be given an opportunity to prepare and submit a new set of nomination papers but claim the PEO refused arguing that the deadline for submissions had passed since it was past 4pm.
At that time, CCC members said the Zanu PF candidates for provincial had already filed their nomination papers and stood uncontested “owing to our alleged failure to file nomination papers,” since the PEO “declared them duly elected.”
The CCC members argue that PEO acted unlawfully when he refused them an opportunity to have another set of nomination papers filed for consideration.