The Supreme Court is set to hold a crucial hearing this Wednesday, responding to the appeal lodged by the 12 Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) who were disqualified from participating in the highly anticipated August 23 election. The reason for their disqualification was the alleged late filing of their nomination papers.
Presiding over the three-panel bench will be Justice Antonia Guvava, who scheduled the hearing after a case management meeting involving legal representatives from both the CCC and the opposing parties.
The disqualification of the 12 aspiring MPs came as a result of a petition filed by Zanu PF activists, who claimed to be “registered voters.” According to the activists, the CCC candidates submitted their nomination papers after the 4 pm deadline on June 21.
In response to the allegations, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) took a firm stance, opposing the application, and affirming that the CCC candidates submitted their papers well within the specified deadline.
The CCC candidates, on the other hand, fiercely opposed the application, contending that the High Court lacked the necessary jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter—an argument they are maintaining in their appeal before the Supreme Court. According to the CCC, the application was a veiled attempt at seeking a review rather than a declaratory action. Moreover, they vehemently asserted that the Zanu PF activists had no legal standing or interest in the case.
In a significant turn of events, the Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Bongani Ndlovu, passed a judgment on Thursday in favor of the CCC candidates. Justice Ndlovu ruled that the 12 aspiring MPs had indeed submitted their nomination papers on time, which has now laid the groundwork for their appeal before the Supreme Court.
The CCC’s appeal before the Supreme Court is seeking a critical resolution, urging the court to decline jurisdiction over the matter. In addition, the 12 candidates are requesting the court to order that costs be borne jointly and severally by the applicants, with one party absolving the other, at the higher scale of legal practitioner and own client.
To further strengthen their case, the CCC candidates are required to file their written submissions, known as “heads,” by the end of Tuesday. Similarly, the respondents will be filing their heads accordingly.
The highly anticipated hearing, which is scheduled for 2 pm on Wednesday, is expected to have significant implications for the future course of the election, and the CCC candidates are steadfast in their pursuit of a favorable verdict. They are seeking a dismissal of the application made by the Zanu PF activists, with costs at the higher scale of legal practitioner and own client to be borne jointly and severally by the applicants, with one party absolving the other.
The outcome of this appeal before the Supreme Court will undoubtedly shape the political landscape, and citizens eagerly await the verdict that may decide the fate of the CCC aspiring MPs’ participation in the upcoming election.