Elections: Mthuli handed free ticket to Parliament as judge shuts door on ‘late’ opposition candidates

A judge has barred 12 opposition candidates, including those from the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), from standing in next month’s election. This hands Finance Minsiter Mthuli Ncube and another ZANU PF candidate a free ticket to Parliament.

Justice Bongani Ndlovu ruled on Thursday that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission violated the rules when it allowed the candidates to file their papers after the 4PM deadline.

This means that some ZANU PF candidates are uncontested in those 12 seats, in a city where it only managed a single seat in 2018 after taking advantage of a vote spilt by double opposition candidates in Bulawayo South. Among those affected by the ruling is CCC’s Deputy Spokesperson, Gift Siziba, who had filed for Pelandaba/Tshabalala.

Today’s ruling also hands Mthuli Ncube the Cowdray Park seat, where he was to contest against CCC’s Pashor Sibanda. ZANU PF also goes uncontested in Bulawayo Central, where its candidate Tendayi Charuka also gets a pass to Parliament.

Reacting, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said her party would appeal.

“CCC will appeal against the Bulawayo Judgment. Citizens have the right to nominate candidates within the ambit of the law and to be represented by MPs that they choose in a free and fair election. The right to parliamentary representation of choice is sacred,” she said.

The Electoral Act allows candidates to file their papers as long as they have arrived inside the nomination court venue and are ready to file by 4PM. However, in court, a lawyer for the applicants – said to be registered voters – argued that ZEC illegally allowed prospective candidates to file their papers.

Lawyer Thembinkosi Magwaliba, for the applicants, presented a roster from the nomination court which he argued showed time stamps proving that the opposition candidates had filed after 4PM, and that some had filed after midnight and in the early hours of the next day.

Multiple legal challenges after the June 21 nomination have delayed ballot printing by ZEC, risking a key step in the electoral process. Postal ballots – sent to voters in the security forces, those on national duty abroad, or voters who will be on election duty on polling day – were due to be distributed on July 5, 14 days after nomination day. According to the commission’s calendar, publication of ballots is scheduled for August 18. Including the Bulawayo cases, there are at least 135 nomination appeals in the courts.