High Court reverses Biti, 5 others Parly bounce-back

THE High Court yesterday cancelled Monday’s ruling stopping by-elections in six constituencies that allowed People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members to bounce back to Parliament without being subjected to an election.

High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Tuesday ruled that the recall of Tendai Biti (Harare East), Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo), Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma), Regai Tsunga (Mutasa South), Kucaca Ivumile Phulu (Nkulumane) and Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) was illegal.

But another High Court judge Justice Never Katiyo yesterday issued a provisional order directing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to reopen nominations for the six constituencies.

Justice Katiyo made the order after Benjamin Rukanda, who initiated the recall of the six legislators, filed an urgent chamber application challenging Justice Chitapi’s ruling.

“The first respondent (Zec) be and is hereby ordered to reopen the nomination court for the nomination of candidates to fill the vacancies for the constituencies,” Justice Katiyo’s
order read in part.

“… The cancellation of the nomination court process for the constituencies … by Zec be and is hereby declared null and void for lack of legality.”

Zec yesterday said implementing the order after the closure of the nomination court was a legal impossibility.

“The court order was served at 1655hrs after the nomination courts had closed and it became a legal impossibility to implement. Nomination courts close at 1600hrs in terms of the law. Zec will stand guided on the way forward by legal instruments/orders to be issued in terms of the law,” Zec said in a statement.

PDP official Jacob Mafume described the latest setback as shocking.

“There has never been a High Court judge who has cancelled another judge’s order. The ordinary thing is for people to appeal. We are surprised and in awe to whatever this development is. The same court cannot give contrasting orders within hours of itself,” he said.

Meanwhile, battle lines have been drawn as attention yesterday moved from the court to the electorate after aspiring candidates successfully filed their nomination papers ahead of the March 26 by-elections.

Some of the aspiring candidates include musician-cum-politician Hosiah Chipanga, who is eyeing the Dangamvura/Chikanga constituency on a Patriotic Zimbabwe Party ticket.

This is not the first time that Chipanga is contesting the seat, having lost in previous attempts as an independent candidate.

“I have previously contested as an independent candidate in the Dangamvura/Chikanga constituency, but without success. Now I have a party with a vision, please give me a chance,” he said.

The seat fell vacant after then MDC Alliance legislator Prosper Mutseyami was recalled from Parliament.

Mutseyami and Zanu PF central committee member Esau Mupfumi were among other candidates who filed their papers to contest for the seat.

Mutseyami registered as the candidate for the Citizens Coalition for Change, the new party led by Nelson Chamisa.

In Harare, 43 candidates eyeing 10 vacant parliamentary seats successfully filed nomination papers at the Harare Magistrates Court.

CCC secretary-general Charlton Hwende expressed confidence that the new political outfit will cause upsets.

“We have successfully filed papers for our candidates in all wards and constituencies which are vacant and I can assure you that we are going to take all the seats which we held and even those held by Zanu PF,” said Hwende.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe People’s Party president Tarisai Nyaupembe was unhappy after being disqualified for not appearing on the voters’ roll.

Other candidates turned away included Nyasha Paradza of the United Democratic Alliance and Bizaliel Kennedy, an independent, as they were not appearing on the voters’ roll.

Lead president Linda Masarira also made it on the ballot for Harare Central, where she faces Norest Marara of MDC Alliance, Murisi Zwizwai of CCC and Loice Magwebi of Zanu PF.

Leonard Mthombeni of Zapu, Musa Ncube representing Zanu PF, CCC’s Tapson Sibanda and Bongani Moyo, an independent, will battle it out for the Tsholotsho South seat.

Peggie Mudimba (MDC Alliance), former legislator Prince Dubeko Sibanda (CCC), Kudakwashe Munsaka (Zanu PF), Muzamba Clive for the United Democratic Alliance and Disciple Munkuli, an independent, successfully filed to contest the Binga North constituency.

In Masvingo, Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC Alliance failed to field a candidate for Mwenezi East constituency, while in Chinhoyi, the MDC Alliance failed to field four candidates out of the six wards to be contested.

Two candidates withdrew their nomination papers at the last minute.

The Mwenezi East seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF’s Jusby Omar. In Chivi South, the seat fell vacant after the expulsion of Zanu PF’s Killer Zivhu.

Aspiring candidates for Mwenezi East include Turner Mhango of Free Zimbabwe Congress, Master Makope of Zanu PF and Tendeukai Mandizvidza of CCC.

In Chivi South, Munyaradzi Zizhou is the Zanu PF candidate, battling it out with Shadreck Mapope (MDC Alliance), Mhlolo Paul Thompson (CCC) and Faith Chuma (Patriotic Zimbabwe).

In Beitbridge, former Beitbridge mayor Morgan Ncube and former municipality chairperson Granger Nyoni for CCC will face Zanu PF’s Lawrence Tshili and Showa Moyo for the vacant Beitbridge Urban wards 4 and 5, respectively.

Ncube said he was confident of winning his seat back.

“We were not chased by the people, but by (Douglas) Mwonzora and Zanu PF. We are just going back to represent people just like what they want and we will win,” he said.

Ncube was the first mayor of Beitbridge after winning the 2018 elections.

In Kwekwe Central, CCC aspiring candidate Judith Tobaiwa will face off with Zanu PF’s John Mapurazi and MDC Alliance candidate Mbekezeli Ndlovu. The seat fell vacant after Masango Matambanadzo’s death.

In Karoi, three aspiring candidates were duly nominated to contest for the town’s ward 4 seat.

Zanu PF’s Solomon Chikwerengwe was a last-minute inclusion after the name of the party’s candidate Nobody Tana was said to be missing from the voters’ roll.

Meanwhile, Zec was roundly criticised for stringent “discriminatory” requirements for women candidates, including the need to produce marriage certificates.

“We note with concern the discriminatory practices in the nomination court processes of demanding marriage certificates on female candidates and divorce papers for previously married women, while the same documentation is not required for men,” said the Residents Association Coalition for Electoral reforms Masvingo head Anoziva Muguti at a Press conference held in
Masvingo.

The coalition is made up of more than 20 residents associations from across the country.Newsday.

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