Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
IN the absence of the opposition MDC formations that took a rain check in the wake of their embarrassing drubbing in the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections and subsequent local authority by-elections, its Zanu-PF vs Zanu-PF in Harare East Constituency after the Electoral Court yesterday ruled that the revolutionary party be represented by two candidates, Cdes Terrence Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo in the June 10 by- election.
The Court said both candidates filed legitimate nomination papers.
High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, said where a prospective candidate’s papers were in order, the Nomination officer “is vested with very limited powers to reject the prospective candidate’s candidature”.
The ruling comes after Cde Mukupe had challenged the Nomination Court’s decision to reject his papers after Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission advising the officials that the party had withdrawn his candidature.
He asked the Electoral Court to determine whether the Nomination officer, Mrs Fiona Kurima, properly rejected Cde Mukupe’s candidature for the Harare East Constituency by-election.
In his ruling, Justice Bhunu noted that there was controversy between the party’s two secretaries for Administration (Cde Ignatius Chombo) and Commissariat (Cde Saviour Kasukuwere).
“This is an internal matter that should be resolved internally by resorting to domestic remedies in terms of its Constitution and electoral regulations availed at the hearing,” Justice Bhunu said.
Zanu-PF, he said, had the sole right and responsibility to choose its own election candidates and could not shift that responsibility to the nomination officer or the courts.
In this case, the judge ruled that the nomination officer fell into grave error when she tried to resolve the party’s own internal controversy by preferring one candidate over the other from the same party.
“Since both candidates’ papers were in order the nomination officer had no option but to accept both candidates as duly nominated and leave the party to sort out its own mess and controversy according to its own legal instruments and devices,” said Justice Bhunu.
That being the case, the judge quashed the decision of the nomination officer. “It is accordingly ordered that both the appellant Terrence Mukupe and fourth respondent Mavis Gumbo be and are hereby declared to be duly nominated candidates for Zanu-PF in the 10 June 2015 House of Assembly by-elections for the Harare East Constituency.”
Justice Bhunu said while it was clear that there was factional controversy between the party’s two high-ranking officials, this was an internal dispute which had nothing to do with Ms Kurima in her capacity as the nomination officer.
Through his lawyer, Advocate Sylvester Hashiti, Cde Mukupe had appealed to the Electoral Court against the decision of the Nomination Court to reject his papers at the last minute.
Cde Mukupe won the party’s primary elections to contest in Harare East, but his papers were rejected by the Nomination Court sitting in Harare on April 16.
The party replaced Cde Mukupe with Cde Gumbo of the same party, who then successfully filed her papers to represent Zanu-PF in the election slated for June 10.
Cde Mukupe polled 651 votes against Cde Gumbo’s 369.
The dispute spilled into the courts after Cde Mukupe filed an urgent chamber application last week contesting the party’s rejection of his nomination papers at the last minute.