NTABAZINDUNA Chief Felix Nhlanhlayemangwe Ndiweni has taken the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to court seeking nullification of provincial assembly and national chiefs council elections held between July 11 and 18, claiming the process was flawed.
BY SILAS NKALA
This followed the recent re-election of Fortune Charumbira as Chief’s Council president and Chief Mtshane as his deputy.
In his urgent chamber application filed at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday, Ndiweni cited Zec as the respondent.
“The plaintiff is asking the High Court to order Zec to nullify its voting process that was conducted on July 11, 2018 at the Chief Khayisa Ndiweni’s training Centre Hall, Ntabazinduna for Matabeleland North Chiefs Provincial Assembly, to elect four chiefs to constitute the provincial Chief’s Council. They in turn would represent the chiefs of Matabeleland North at the National Chiefs Council,” Ndiweni through his lawyer Dumisani Dube said.
Ndiweni claimed the election of the chief’s council president held in Harare on July 18 was flawed as traditional leaders were asked to elect their preferred candidates by “a show of hands” instead of secret ballot.
“This was to elect the president and vice-president of the National Chief’s Council. The Matabeleland North Provincial Chiefs Council were not duly elected and constituted in accordance with the principles of a proper electoral process.”
He asked the court to order Zec to facilitate fresh elections for the Matabeleland North Provincial Chiefs Council using the secret ballot system.
Ndiweni said on the day, all the 30 chiefs present were denied their constitutional right of a secret ballot.
He said in 2017 at a meeting in Bulawayo, chiefs expressed concern about the length of time, some Chiefs had held various positions, constituting the Matabeleland North Chiefs Provincial Council and had suggested that positions be rotated and that the incumbents should hold office for not more than two years.
Ndiweni said the chiefs have an informal hierarchal understanding among themselves based upon the age of the chief and the number of years the incumbent has been a chief and the length of time the chief has held a particular office.
“Hence, chiefs would not to be seen challenging this informal hierarchal understanding by voting for change among the chiefs leadership. Yet the democratic process underpinning the work of Zec is implicitly designed to enable such conservative individuals like chiefs, to vote anonymously freely, transparently and comfortably,” he submitted.
“As a result the anonymity of the chiefs vote for this electoral college is absolutely vital because of this unofficial, informal, hierarchal understanding among the chiefs. An understanding that pulls against change and indeed pulls against the very principles of democracy alluded to earlier.”
Ndiweni said in Matabeleland North for the first position, chiefs wrote down the name of their preferred candidate on a piece of paper before Zec officials read, out the name and asked for the Chief who had proposed the name to raise their hand and state their name.
By so doing, Ndiweni said, Zec stripped chiefs of their secret votes. He said Zec also asked for the seconder who was required to raise his hand and say out his name.
Ndiweni prayed that the court should order Zec to nullify the election and call for re- election.