Tshabangu’s by-elections challenged

The by-elections were triggered by the recall of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs by self-imposed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.

A ZIMBABWEAN based outside the country has lodged a formal complaint with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) questioning the legality of the recent by-elections and the legitimacy of the individuals sworn in as new Members of Parliament (MPs).

The by-elections were triggered by the recall of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MPs by self-imposed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu.

Another set of by-elections will be held on February 3 next year.

Berias Brian Trust Mari Mari, the complainant, raised numerous concerns regarding the electoral processes of the December by-elections.

His central argument hinges on the alleged dissonance between the by-elections, held on December 9, 2023, and the provisions of the Zimbabwean Constitution.

“It is common cause that in terms of section 117(1) the legislative authority of Zimbabwe is only derived from the people of Zimbabwe and is vested in and exercised in accordance with the Constitution by the legislature. Without people there is no legislative authority," Mari complained.

He argued that the by-elections, based on a High Court order, bypassed the Electoral Act, the law governing elections in Zimbabwe.

“Section 124(2) of the Constitution sets an obligation by use of the word ‘must’ and there is no second option after ‘must’ that can give the option of conducting elections of members of National Assembly other than in accordance with electoral law,” the complaint declare.

Mari also casts doubt on the legitimacy of the judges who authorised the by-elections, claiming that they lack proper qualifications and appointments.

“From 22 May 2020 Zimbabwe has no legitimate Chief Justice or Constitutional Court bench ... These judges are not and cannot be judges of the Constitutional Court until they retire under conditions of section 86 of old Constitution,” the document alleges, citing specific constitutional articles and Sixth Schedule provisions to support his claim.

Justice Isaac Muzenda presided over the Supreme Court appeal filed by the recalled CCC members after the High Court ruled in favour of Tshabangu, effectively barring the former legislators from participating in the polls.

These alleged irregularities, Mari argued, have dire consequences of disenfranchising voters.

“Any decision made by the High Court setting aside the decision of the nomination court has no force and is not binding to any voter ... A High Court judgment does not apply to elections and voters and, therefore, it does not bind any voter at all,” he argued.

He argued that the judges had no legal authority to hear the matter.

“It is a mockery to our democracy and an insult to have someone without our judicial authority devising statutes in the name of directions in order to undermine our right,” he argued.

He implored the commission to investigate the allegations and take decisive action, including rescinding the by-election order and ensuring the removal of the allegedly illegitimate Members of Parliament.

“As the last legitimate institution of the State to rectify this breach ... take note that there is no law that can limit a fair trial and no one can violate it,” he said.

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