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Court refers election petition to trial

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MDC-T Mudzi West losing parliamentary candidate Ushe Mennard Paradzayi has been thrown a lifeline after High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled in his favour and referred his July 31 election petition to trial.

CHARLES LAITON,SENIOR COURT REPORTER

Paradzayi, who was aggrieved by the outcome of the July 31 harmonised election results in his constituency, petitioned the court alongside 30 other MDC-T losing candidates seeking to have the results nullified. His petition, however, was challenged by the winning candidate Aquilina Katsande (Zanu PF), who argued on preliminary issues and raised an exception alleging that the petition was defective.

Katsande argued the petition could not be heard on merit because Paradzayi had failed to serve her with notice of the payment of security in terms of section 169 of the Electoral Act, an assertion dismissed by the court.

“On a proper reading of the above section, it is clear that it makes no reference to the service of proof of payment of security on the respondent,” Justice Bhunu said.

“There is, therefore, no obligation on the petitioner to serve notice of payment of security on the respondent. That being the case, I can only find that there is no merit in the exception raised. It is accordingly ordered: that the exception be and is hereby dismissed with costs being costs in the cause. The matter be and is hereby referred to trial.” In a related matter where the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Justice Rita Makarau, had been cited as a respondent in election petitions, the judge said the petitioners wrongly interpreted the law.

Justice Bhunu said citing of the chairperson of the electoral commission as a respondent under section 166 of the Electoral Act was unlawful and to that extent not permissible at law. The losing House of Assembly candidates who had cited Justice Makarau were Silas Gweshe, Wilson Makanyadze, Tracy Mutinhiri, James Kay and Bednock Nyaude —all of the MDC-T

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