Biti, five others to face by-elections -court

111

Harare (New-Ziana)- In a case of so near, yet so far for prominent opposition leader Tendai Biti and five others, the High Court on Wednesday cancelled a provisional order issued the previous day by the same court nullifying polls in their parliamentary constituencies in upcoming by-elections in March.

The country will hold by-elections for parliamentary and local government seats left vacant by recalls, death or re-assignment of incumbents.

Biti, who was the deputy president of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party, was among several of the party’s legislators recalled from parliament by rival factions, some of which won leadership legitimacy battles in the Supreme Court last year.

But he and the five other ex-legislators on Tuesday appeared to have escaped the prospect of bruising March 26 by-election battles when the High Court upheld an earlier ruling by the same court that their recall from parliament was orchestrated by a person with no locus standi, and therefore null and void.

The ruling prompted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Tuesday to immediately cancel scheduled by-elections in Biti’s Harare East constituency, and Mbizo, Kambuzuma, Mutasa South, Nkuumane and Pumula constituencies.

But it was a case of so near, yet so far for the six, as the High Court on Wednesday directed ZEC to proceed with by-elections in the ex-legislators’ constituencies as originally scheduled, in the latest twist in the case.

Mbizo constituency was by Settlement Chikwinya, Kambuzuma by Willas Madzimure, Mutasa South by Regai Tsunga, Nkulumane by Sichelesile Mahlangu and Pumula by Kucaca Phulu.

Elsewhere, candidates in by-elections filed their nominations with ZEC on Wednesday, and because the court ruling came late in the day, no filings were made in the six constituencies in conformity with the earlier order by High Court.

But in its Wednesday ruling, the High Court declared ZEC’s cancellation of by-elections in the six constituencies ‘null and void for lack of legality’, and ordered a run of the polls as originally scheduled by the elections body.

“The 1st respondent (ZEC) be and is hereby ordered to reopen the nomination court for nomination of candidates to fill the vacancies for the constituencies of Nkulumane Constituency, Mbizo Constituency, Kambuzuma Constituency, Mutasa South Constituency, Pumula Constituency and Harare Constituency,” it ruled.

“The cancellation of the nomination court process for the constituencies of Nkulumane Constituency, Mbizo Constituency, Mutasa South Constituency, Pumula Constituency and Harare Constituency by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission be and is hereby declared null and void for lack of legality,” it added.

The six’s recall from parliament, and subsequent court drama, was instigated by Benjamin Marukanda, the disputed secretary general of the People’s Democratic Party, Biti’s political outfit before he joined the MDC-Alliance.

Mavis Gumbo, the ruling ZANU-PF party’s aspirant for Biti’s former Harare East parliamentary constituency, told New Ziana ZEC will likely re-open the nomination court on Thursday, and will fill in her papers.

New Ziana

Comments are closed.