High Court overthrows Biti, 5 others bounce off Parly

BY MOSES MATENGA/EVANS MATHANDA
THE High Court yesterday overturned Monday’s decision halting by-elections in six constituencies that allowed members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to rebound in parliament without being subject to an election.

High Court Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled on Tuesday 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 an interim order ordering the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to reopen nominations for the six constituencies.

Judge Katiyo issued the order after Benjamin Rukanda, who initiated the dismissal of the six lawmakers, filed an urgent chambers motion challenging Judge Chitapi’s decision.

“The first defendant (Zec) be and is hereby ordered to reopen the court of nominations for the nomination of candidates to fill the vacancies for the constituencies,” Judge Katiyo said.
order read in part.

“…The annulment of the judicial nomination process for the constituencies…by Zec be and is hereby declared null and void for want of legality.”

Zec said yesterday that implementing the order after the nominating court closed was a legal impossibility.

“The court order was served at 4:55 p.m. after the nominating courts closed and it has become a legal impossibility to implement. The nominating courts close at 4:00 p.m. as per law. Zec will stand guided on the way to be followed by legal instruments/orders to be issued in accordance with law,” Zec said in a statement.

PDP leader Jacob Mafume called the latest setback shocking.

“There has never been a High Court judge who overturned another judge’s order. The ordinary thing is for people to appeal. We are surprised and impressed by this development. The same court cannot give conflicting orders within hours,” he said.

Meanwhile, battle lines were drawn as the focus shifted from the court to the electorate yesterday after aspiring candidates successfully lodged their nomination papers ahead of the March 26 by-elections.

Among the budding candidates is musician and politician Hosiah Chipanga, who is eyeing Dangamvura/Chikanga constituency on a Zimbabwe Patriotic Party ticket.

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

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

The seat became vacant after MDC Alliance lawmaker Prosper Mutseyami was recalled from parliament.

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

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

In Harare, 43 candidates seeking 10 vacant parliamentary seats successfully filed nomination papers at the Harare Magistrate’s Court.

CCC General Secretary Charlton Hwende said he was confident the new political team would cause upheaval.

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

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

Other candidates who were turned down included Nyasha Paradza of the United Democratic Alliance and Bizaliel Kennedy, an independent, because they were not on the electoral list.

Principal Chairperson Linda Masarira was also elected 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, Tapson Sibanda of CCC and Bongani Moyo, an independent, will battle for the seat of Tsholotsho South.

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

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 in challenge.

Two candidates withdrew their nomination papers at the last minute.

The Mwenezi East seat became vacant following the death of Jusby Omar of Zanu PF. In Chivi South, the seat became vacant after Killer Zivhu was expelled from Zanu PF.

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

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

In Beitbridge, former Beitbridge Mayor Morgan Ncube and former Municipality Chairman Granger Nyoni for CCC will face Lawrence Tshili and Showa Moyo of Zanu PF for vacant Beitbridge Urban 4 and 5, respectively.

Ncube said he was confident of getting his seat back.

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

Ncube was Beitbridge’s first mayor after winning the 2018 election.

At Kwekwe Central, budding CCC candidate Judith Tobaiwa will take on Zanu PF’s John Mapurazi and MDC Alliance candidate Mbekezeli Ndlovu. The seat became vacant after the death of Masango Matambanadzo.

In Karoi, three aspiring candidates have been duly nominated to compete for the seat of Ward 4 of the city.

Zanu PF’s Solomon Chikwerengwe was a last minute inclusion after the name of the party’s candidate, Nobody Tana, was reportedly missing from the electoral list.

Meanwhile, Zec has been roundly criticized for the strict “discriminatory” requirements imposed on candidates, including the need to produce marriage certificates.

“We note with concern the discriminatory practices in judicial appointment procedures of requiring marriage certificates for women candidates and divorce documents for previously married women, while the same documentation is not required for men,” said Anoziva, leader of the Residents Association Coalition for Electoral Reforms in Masvingo. Muguti during a press conference held in
Masvingo.

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

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