Registered voter challenges Modi’s nomination in Byo South constituency

A registered voter in Bulawayo South has filed an urgent chamber appeal at the Bulawayo High Court to stop the nomination of deputy industry minister and Zanu PF’s parliamentary candidate RajeshKumar Modi, claiming he filed his nomination papers after the June 21 4pm deadline.

Raymond Dudzayi Gombedza, a registered voter in Ward 7, is asking the Bulawayo High Court for a declaration order and consequential relief to declare Modi’s nomination null and unlawful.

According to the Gomgbedza, Nomination Court records show that Modi presented his nomination papers at 4.20pm on June 21, 2023, and that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) accommodated him in violation of Section 46(7) and (8) of the Electoral Act, because Nomination Court was extended to another day.

Gombedza’s application comes after the Bulawayo High Court ruled last Thursday to bar 12 parliamentary candidates from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and other opposition candidates from contesting the August 23, 2023 elections, ruling that they filed their nomination papers after the deadline of 4 pm on June 21.

The applicant said he “cannot turn a blind eye to unlawful nominations giving rise to unlawful elections” and has “direct and substantial interest in the subject matter” due to his standing as a Zimbabwean national and registered voter in Bulawayo South where Modi is contesting.

In the urgent application, Gombedza cited the ZEC Bulawayo Provincial Elections officer, (PEO) Innocent Ncube as the first respondent, while ZEC, Modi, and Chairperson of ZEC are cited as the second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

Gombedza said the ZEC PEO’s unilateral decision to adjourn the nomination day from June 21, 2023, to the next day contravened Section 46(8) of the Electoral Act.

He further claims that ZEC’s decision to approve Modi’s nomination papers violated the Electoral Act, and he wants an order barring ZEC from including Modi’s name on ballot papers on August 23, 2023.

“The party who opposes the application will be ordered to pay costs of suit at the attorney-client scale,” Gombedza said.

Gombedza claims he has read the Electoral Act and the Electoral Act (Applications, Appeals and Petitions) Rules 1995, particularly Rule 31 of the Electoral Rules which provides for the urgency of electoral matters and requires the speedy determination of such cases.

“I understandably took a few days to seek legal advice,” he said, adding he “did not sit on his laurels” but “sprang into action.” 

The applicant also cited that in this case, the Nomination Court sat, challenges were brought under case No. HC 1356 to 68/23. 

“The afore-said cases were premised on the exact same facts. The Court pronounced itself on July 27, 2023,” read Gombedza’s application.

Gombedza said he immediately sought legal advice and instructed his lawyers to prepare and file the legal proceedings to challenge the process.

“The applicant acted with urgency when he became aware of the import of the decision in the afore-cited case and filed this application within four days. In light of the letter and spirit of the Electoral Act and Electoral Rules, I am of the view  that this matter must be expeditiously determined,” he said.

The applicant argues that the nomination process is so critical as it is not only a matter of individual candidates but has a ripple effect also on the general electorate and the political parties.

 “It is for this reason that the provisions of the  Electoral Act regarding the nomination of candidates must be strictly adhered to so as to protect the integrity of the elections. In casu, the allegations raised in the Founding Affidavit and the attachments are of a serious nature. If the allegations are proven, the impact on the electoral process will be far reaching hence the need  to urgently determine the present application,” Gombedza said.

“The legal points raised in the Founding Affidavit as well the factual allegations raise questionable issues for determination by the Honourable Court.”

Gombedza said records from ZEC show that Modi submitted his nomination papers late.

“Based on the above I respectfully aver that the present matter is urgent and there is sufficient justification on allowing the matter to jump the ordinary queue and be heard and determined on an urgent basis,” he said.

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