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Zimbabwe Politics

Raj Modi In Trouble!

Raj Modi In Trouble!

A registered voter has filed an application with the Bulawayo High Court to prevent incumbent legislator and ZANU PF candidate Raj Modi from running for Member of Parliament in Bulawayo South.

The applicant argues that Modi filed his nomination papers after the 4 PM deadline, contravening the Electoral Act.

The case comes amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the disqualification of 12 parliamentary candidates from the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in Bulawayo. High Court Judge Bongani Ndlovu disqualified the candidates, ruling that they had contravened the Electoral Act by submitting their nomination papers through a police officer on June 21, when the Nomination Court sat.

High Court Judge Nokuthula Moyo delivered the ruling on behalf of Justice Ndlovu, disqualifying the CCC candidates and three other candidates from different political parties. Said Justice Ndlovu said:

We now know that a Police Officer collected the nomination papers from the candidates. The Applicants’ case is that the Respondent (CCC candidates) violated the law. I have also been moved by both sides of the bar, to give Section 46 (7) and (8) of the Act the golden rule of interpretation. The Nomination Court closed at 4 pm. Once it closed it was no longer sitting in open court and by the time the respondents sat before him they were not doing so in open Court. The separation of the papers from the Respondents through the medium of the Police Officer was unlawful. The statute says the candidate or his/her agent must be in court and ready to submit at 4 pm. It does not say that the candidate’s papers alone must be in the courtroom.

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The 1st Respondent, therefore, violated the provisions of the electoral Act in that regard as he also did close to midnight when he adjourned to 22 June 2022.

ZEC officers who were assessors of the Nomination Court which sat on the 21st of June 2023 at Tredgold Magistrates Court, testified in court that every candidate on the government gazette, including CCC and ZANU PF candidates, submitted their nomination papers on time. ZEC official, Pretty Gadzikwa, stated that the nomination officer, Mr I. Ncube, announced the court was closing at 4 pm on 21 June and instructed the police to collect all nomination papers from aspiring candidates outside the courtroom. In her affidavit, Gadzikwa added that processing of the nomination papers continued until midnight, with the times shown on the submission form indicating when individual forms were completely processed. She said:

1. On the 21st of June 2023 at 15:55 hrs the Nomination Officer, Mr. I. Ncube announced that the court was about to close at 16:00ho. He went on to instruct the police officer manning the door to collect all Nomination papers from the aspiring candidates who were outside the Courtroom. The Courtroom was very small and could only allow batches of fifteen (15) people at a given time.

2. After collecting all the Nomination forms outside, the police officer brought them before the Nomination officer’s desk. The nomination officer at 1600hrs announced that the court was now closed for new nomination papers to be submitted.

3. Processing all nomination papers on the nomination officer’s desk was done up to midnight when results were announced. The times shown on the form written Submission Form were times when Individual forms were completely Processed.

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The CCC has since appealed against the High Court decision which means the ruling is suspended until a determination is made by the Supreme Court.

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