Independent presidential candidate Saviour Kasukuwere has filed an urgent High Court application challenging the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over its changes to the Electoral Act by formulating a Statutory Instrument altering the deadline for postal vote submission.
ZEC enacted Statutory Instrument (SI) 140A of 2023, which extends the submission deadline of postal voting materials to ZEC from August 9 to August 20, 2023.
However, SI 140A violates Section 157(5) of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, which states that after an election is called, there can be no changes to the Electoral Law or any other election-related law, which applies to that election in question.
Kasukuwere argues that SI 140A is unconstitutional and must be set aside.
ZEC, on the other hand, said this amendment was made to accommodate delays caused by the Nomination Court challenges that are pending in court.
Kasukuwere has described the act by ZEC as “gross ignorance and abuse of power” because “they cannot change rules in the middle of a match.”
In the urgent chamber application filed on August 7, 2023, Kasukuwere cited ZEC as the first respondent, Attorney-General (Prince Machaya) as the second respondent, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (Ziyambi Ziyambi) as the third respondent and President of Zimbabwe (Emmerson Mnangagwa) as the fourth respondent.
The grounds for the urgent application filed by Kasukuwere are that President Mnangagwa on May 30, 2023, made a proclamation for the holding of general elections on August 23, 2023, then set Nomination Court for June 21, 2023.
Kasukuwere said he learnt on August 6, 2023, that ZEC with the approval of the Justice Minister created SI 140 A of 2023, which set new timelines for the distribution of postal ballots departing from the ordinary timelines provided for in the Electoral Act.
“In fact, the said provisions amend the provisions of the Electoral Act,” he said.
Kaukuwere is seeking a declaratory order that SI 140A of 2023 be declared unconstitutional and must not have any force or effect for the purpose of harmonised elections set on August 23, 2023.
He also said that he remains a presidential candidate explaining that his case is before the Constitutional Court.
“I was purportedly disqualified by the High Court from participating in the presidential election on July 12, 2023, and challenged the order of the High Court in the Supreme Court under SC 387-23. My appeal was dismissed with no reasons provided as yet,” said Kasukuwere.
Kasukuwere said he sought an application for direct access to challenge the Supreme Court judgment to the Constitution Court under CCZ 35-23, and the matter will be heard on August 8, 2023.
“After my disqualification, which was not confirmed by the Constitutional Court per Section 167 (3) of the Constitution, I remain a presidential candidate,” he claimed.
“In terms of Section 107 read together with Section 108 of the Electoral Act after my purported disqualification there must be a new proclamation from (President Mnangagwa) and sitting of the Nomination Court again.”
He, therefore, argues that these processes were not done and further added that he was aware that there is no gazette issued per the law, which informs the public that he was disqualified from contesting as a presidential candidate.
Political analysts have also said such bending of electoral rules will make it impossible for Zimbabwe to hold legal elections on August 23, 2023, as the election cannot be considered credible.