LEGAL think-tank Veritas yesterday said National Assembly and local council candidates that believe the recent elections were flawed and that the results must be nullified now have limited options to get that overturned.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
In their recent Elections Watch publication, Veritas said losing candidates who might even want the votes to be recounted had also missed the deadline.
A number of opposition MDC Alliance MPs have expressed their wish to have the votes nullified, saying they believed they had won the elections.
“The remedies open to dissatisfied National Assembly and local council candidates to challenge the results are matters for the Electoral Court alone,” Veritas said.
“If an unsuccessful candidate believes that he or she should have won, or that the election in the constituency or ward was so flawed that it should be nullified and re-run, that candidate has a limited choice of remedies.”
The think-tank said Zimbabwe’s courts had always upheld that time limits for electoral cases could not be extended, and there was a 14-day deadline for lodging election petitions for National Assembly candidates as well as for council elections after the declaration of results for the last constituency and the last ward in the election.
They said the grounds on which an election petition could be based include intimidatory and corrupt practices that include bribery, illegal activities like preventing someone from holding lawful political meetings, defacing or destroying their posters, or even obstructing voters from voting among others.
“Within 10 days after a petition is lodged, written notice of it must be served on the person whose election is challenged, either on him or her in person or by leaving it at his or her usual or last known dwelling or place of business (section 169 of the Electoral Act).
“In previous elections, many petitions were summarily dismissed for being served late or at the headquarters of the successful candidate’s political party,” Veritas said.
They said the Electoral Act also demanded that those that lodged election petitions must give security for the respondent’s costs.
“The amount prescribed in section 28 of the Electoral Regulations is $500. Six days ago, the Chief Justice [Luke Malaba] issued a practice direction in which he announced that the prescribed amount was now to be $2 000 for National Assembly election petitions and $1 000 for local authority petitions,” the legal think-tank said.
Veritas said the practice direction was probably illegal because the amounts were not prescribed in regulations made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission under section 192 of the Electoral Act.