Zimbabwe court bars opposition candidates from August polls
A Zimbabwean court has disqualified 12 parliamentary candidates from the country’s main opposition party from taking part in the August 23 elections after they were found to have filed their nomination papers late.
High Court judge Justice Bongani Ndlovu ruled on Thursday that the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC aspiring legislators from constituencies in the second city of Bulawayo submitted their papers after the 4PM deadline on June 21.
Read:Zimbabwe court jails opposition politician
The judgement means that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu PF will win 21 of the 210 parliamentary seats uncontested.
It will also mean that Zanu-PF will regain control of the city for the first time since the 2000 elections.
Zimbabwe’s major cities have been under the control of the opposition for the past 23 as the ruling party relied on rural constituencies for its support base.
CCC Spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the party will immediately appeal the ruling, which she said showed that Zimbabwe was “now a full-blown dictatorship”.
Read:CCC leader and former loyalist lead push to oust Mnangagwa in August
“Even at his worst, the late former presidentRobert Mugabe never tried to remove opponents whom he feared from the ballot paper,” Advocate Mahere said.
“Zanu PF’s removal of 12 Bulawayo candidates renders this a full-blown dictatorship and an outpost of tyranny.
“The CCC will appeal against the Bulawayo judgement.
“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 their choice is sacred.”
Ibbo Mandaza, the director of Harare-based SAPES Trust think tank, said the ruling meant that credible elections were no longer possible on August 23.
Read:Clamour for reforms puts Zimbabwe polls in doubt
“We are in a potential crisis, I can’t see how credible elections can be held at this rate, not to mention the many – much more in previous elections – negative features to the electoral process so far,” Dr Mandaza said.
Observers say Zimbabwe is heading for another disputed election because of disagreements over nomination of candidates, the poor state of the voters roll and restrictions on campaigns by the opposition.
Also on Thursday, the High Court in Harare ruled that an aspiring female presidential candidate Linda Masarira cannot take part in the elections because she failed to pay the nomination fee of $20 000 on time.
Ms Masarira went to court arguing that delays in the processing of her nomination fees were not of her making as she was a victim of the currency chaos in the country.
On the same day, the Supreme Court was expected to make a ruling on an appeal by a former Robert Mugabe loyalist, Saviour Kasukuwere, who was declared ineligible by the High Court to challenge President Mnangagwa in the presidential poll.
President Mnangagwa will face 11 other candidates, including CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, in his bid to win a second and final term after rising to power through a coup six years ago.