High Court Reserves Judgment in CCC Omission Challenge
6 July 2023
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The High Court in Bulawayo has reserved judgment in a case brought by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), in which its members challenge their omission from the provincial council list. Led by Aquilina Kavidza Pamberi, the ten CCC members filed an urgent court application accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of depriving them of the opportunity to submit their party list nomination papers.

The CCC members sought an order from the Bulawayo High Court to compel ZEC to allow them to submit their candidate names and reverse the election of unopposed Zanu PF provincial council candidates. The case named Innocent Ncube, the ZEC Bulawayo Provincial Elections Officer (PEO), as the first respondent, as he presided over the Nomination Court, while ZEC itself was listed as the second respondent. The elected Zanu PF candidates, Manala Motsi, Eddie Dube, Kundai Nyika, Golden Ndlovu, Mnothisi Nsingo, Moleen Dube, and Mlungisi Moyo, were named as the third to tenth respondents, respectively.

The CCC members alleged that ZEC prohibited them from submitting their provincial council party list nomination papers. However, the PEO refuted these allegations, stating that the CCC had only provided party lists for the Senatorial, National Assembly, and Youth quotas, but not for the Provincial Council. According to the PEO, the CCC attempted to submit their provincial council party list along with amendments to their initial nomination papers, which was prohibited.

The case was heard by Justice Bongani Ndlovu on July 3, and judgment was reserved. Nqobizitha Ndlovu, a lawyer from Cheda and Cheda Associates representing the CCC members, explained that the judge required time to review the arguments and draft the judgment. The judgment is expected to be delivered in due course, and it is anticipated that it will be issued in the coming week.

At present, the CCC members remain without nominated members in Bulawayo’s Provincial or Metropolitan Council. The judgment is considered urgent due to the impending elections, and its timing is of paramount importance. The CCC members claimed that their nomination papers were lost during the Nomination Court proceedings. However, ZEC, through its lawyers Nyika Kanengoni and Partners, argued that there is no valid application before the court justifying the relief sought by the CCC members.

The PEO, Innocent Ncube, stated that he made decisions during the Nomination Court session in accordance with the Electoral Act, even if the CCC alleges otherwise. He clarified that the CCC did not include a provincial council party list in their original submission and only added it when returning with corrected nomination papers. Ncube emphasized that he did not lose their nomination papers as alleged by the CCC, and he acted fully within the confines of the law.

Ncube further argued that the High Court lacked jurisdiction in this matter and requested that the case be struck off the roll. He asserted that the court lacked a legal basis to issue an order that would effectively create a new proclamation or supplement the one made by the President, who has the authority to proclaim when the Nomination Court meets. The PEO contended that his decision cannot be interfered with by any court unless it contradicts the clear provisions of the statute.

ZEC’s lawyers also contended that the CCC members were afforded all the necessary facilities and rights prescribed by Section 45E of the Electoral Act, as per Rule 12 of the electoral (applications, appeal, and petitions) Rules S.I 74 of 1995. They claimed that the applicants were not denied the right to file nomination papers in accordance

with the law. They argued that the attempt at late filing does not meet the requirements set forth in the Electoral Act. The lawyers pointed out that the letter requesting corrective measures was dated June 22, 2023, one day after the sitting of the Nomination Court, at which point the nomination officer was already functus officio, meaning his mandate had expired.

The High Court now awaits the completion of the judgment. The outcome of this case holds significant implications for the CCC members and their eligibility to participate in the upcoming elections. As the judgment is expected to be delivered urgently, it will provide crucial clarity on the matter and will be eagerly awaited by the parties involved.

This case underscores the importance of a fair and transparent electoral process that upholds the rights of all participants. It highlights the complexities that can arise during the nomination process and the need for strict adherence to the provisions of the Electoral Act. The judgment from the Bulawayo High Court will set a precedent for future cases and contribute to the continued improvement of the democratic process in Zimbabwe.