Phuti seeks reversal of default judgement nullifying his electoral victory

Former Bulilima Member of Parliament Dingumuzi Phuti has filed an urgent application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking a reversal of a default judgment which nullified his electoral victory.

Phuti had won the August election after polling 7,185 votes beating Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate Bekezela Maplanka who came second with 6,660 votes.

ZAPU’s Artwell Ndlovu polled 933 votes while Aleck Moyo of MRP had 509.

Maplanka then approached the court seeking nullification of the election outcome arguing that “voter intimidation, rigging and vote buying… produced an undue return”.

Justice David Mangota granted Maplanka a default judgement nullifying the poll outcome after Phuti did not oppose the application.

Justice Mangota also ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to run a fresh election in the constituency.

However, Phuti through his lawyer Nqobizitha Ndlovu of Cheda and Partners is seeking a reversal of the judgement arguing that he was not served with the election petition.

“I only became aware of the petition and the resultant court order on the 23rd of November 2023 after it was published widely on social media. Thus I have a reasonable explanation for the default,” argued Phuti.

Phuti further argues that Maplanka did not follow the procedure when she sought to serve her with the election petition.

The election petition was according to court documents served at Nyele primary School in Plumtree and was handed to one Sharon Moyo who is identified as the wife of Phuti’s brother.

“At the top, it alleges that service took place at Nyele Primary School Plumtree yet at the bottom in an apparent about turn it alleges that service was upon one Sharon Moyo who accepted service at my homestead. I do not reside or carry on business at Nyele Primary School. I have no connection whatsoever with Nyele Primary School besides it being a primary school within the constituency I reside in and lead as a member of the National Assembly,” said Phuti.

My homestead is situated at Zelembu village in Bulilima. The distance between Nyele Primary School and my village is 5 kilometres.”

Phuti also denied any connection to Sharon Moyo, stating “I do not have a brother who has a wife by the name Sharon Moyo”.

Due to the seriousness of the matter, Phuti further argued that he “would not have sat on my laurels and failed to respond to court process which had lawfully been served”.

On the merit of the election petition, Phuti argued that it was defective as it violated some sections of the Electoral Act.

He also stated that Maplanka failed to prove that he was involved in the malpractices contained in her affidavit.

“I have noted that the nub of the election petition filed by Maplanka are allegations of corrupt practices and illegal practices by persons that are known to the respondent. In some instances, the wrong doer is said to have been the elections management body which is said to have allowed itself to be infiltrated by known members of my political party ZANU PF” said Phuti.

“What is apparent from Maplana’s election petition is that there is no allegation that I committed any electoral malpractice, corruption or illegal practice. The respondent does not make any allegations against me in person and this shows that I was never party to any contravention of the electoral law”.

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