HARARE – Zimbabwe’s High Court on Thursday barred 22 candidates from the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party from contesting in by-elections scheduled for Saturday, following a legal challenge by self-proclaimed interim secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu.
The court ruled that the candidates, who were nominated by CCC leader Nelson Chamisa, were unlawfully accepted by the electoral commission and should be removed from the ballot papers.
High Court judge Never Katiyo said “the decision of the Nomination Court sitting at Harare, Bulawayo, Gwanda, Lupane and/or any other location around the country on 7 November 2023 to accept the nomination papers and candidature of 1st to 22nd respondents for election in the by-elections set to be conducted on 9 December 2023 is unlawful, of no force and effect and hereby set aside.”
“The 1st to 22nd respondents are interdicted from representing or holding themselves out to the general public and electorate in the constituencies concerned or any other place in Zimbabwe, whether physically or through any form of media, as candidates for election in by-elections scheduled to be held on 9 December 2023,” Katiyo added.
The 1st to 22ndrespondents are Prince Sibanda, Bright Moyo, Veliswe Nkomo, Jasmine Toffa, Stabile Mlilo, Pashor Raphael Sibanda, Nicola Jane Watson, Ereck Gono, Evidence Sunungurai Zana, Morgan Ncube, Obert Manduna, Janeth Dube, Desmond Makaza, Gideon Shoko, Tendai Sibanda, Anastasia Moyo, Joel Gabuzza, David Chimhini, Siphiwe Ncube, Felix Sibanda, and Helen Zivira.
Only one candidate from Chamisa’s camp, Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi, will remain on the ballot after Tshabangu said he was recalled in error.
The ruling is a blow to Chamisa, who narrowly lost the 2023 presidential election to Emmerson Mnangagwa, and has accused Tshabangu of working with the ruling ZANU-PF party to weaken the opposition.
The by-elections are meant to fill vacant parliamentary and local government seats that were left by CCC members who were recalled by Tshabangu.
Chamisa’s faction said it will appeal the ruling, but Tshabangu’s lawyer Lewis Uriri said the order is declaratory and an appeal will not suspend it.