The Supreme Court has set aside a high court decision barring 12 candidates of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change from standing in the Bulawayo election. This means the candidates are back on the ballot and can run in the election.
A panel of three judges, chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena, unanimously ruled in favour of the CCC, saying they would give their reasons later.
“This is a unanimous decision of the court,” Uchena said.
Last week, Justice Bongani Ndlovu ruled that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission violated the rules by allowing candidates to file their papers after the 4PM deadline. The party appealed to the Supreme Court, insisting that its candidates had been at the nomination court in time, and that appeals against their nomination had been made long after the required period for such applications.
Lawyers for the opposition also argued that the High Court should not have presided over the matter and that it should have been heard at the Electoral Court, which sits ahead of elections to hear election disputes.
The group that brought the application against the CCC, the “Elected Early Democrats”, had also filed a separate appeal at the Electoral Court.
Had it stood, the ruling would have given ZANU PF seats in a constituency that has rejected the ruling party since 2000. In 2018, ZANU PF won one seat in Bulawayo, after Raj Modi in Bulawayo South took advantage of a split vote between two opposition candidates.
One of the beneficiaries of the court ruling would have been Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, whose would-be opponent in Cowdry Park, Pashor Sibanda, was among those those that had been barred by the courts. Campaigning for Ncube in the constituency on Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa mocked the opposition for being “disorganised”.
“ZANU PF is an organisation that keeps time,” Mnangagwa told supporters. ““We know what time when nomination court opens and closes.”
Reacting to the ruling, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere ZANU-PF had hoped to use the courts to avoid facing the opposition in an open contest.
“It would have been a coup on the will of the people had the candidates been removed. The legislative authority derives from the people,” said Mahere. “Mthuli Ncube himself knows we are coming for him in Cowdray Park.”
The reinstated CCC candidates are Surrender Kapoikulu (Bulawayo Central), Minenhle Ntandoyenkosi Gumede (Bulawayo North), Nicola Watson (Bulawayo South), Pashor Sibanda (Cowdray Park), Collins Descent Bajila (Emakhandeni/Luveve), Tshuma Dingilizwe (Entumbane/Njube), Prince Dube (Entumbane/ Njube), Dereck Gono (Lobengula/Magwegwe), Desmond Makaza (Mpopoma/Mzilikazi), Obert Manduna (Nketa), Desire Moyo (Nkulumane), Soneni Moyo (Pelandaba/Tshabalala), Gift Siziba (Pelandaba/Tshabalala), Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) and Albert Mhlanga (Pumula).