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Crime & Courts

Zim In Worst Electoral Crisis Since 1980





By Prof Jonathan Moyo

Exiled former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo says the current electoral situation in Zimbabwe never seen before in the country’s history.





He says a situation with over 135 nomination cases before the courts with just 26 days before elections has no precedence even in the region or continent as a whole.




Moyo writes:

With 36 Days since Nomination Court Day, over 135 Nomination Cases still in Court & only 26 Days to Election Day, it would be a Scandalous Travesty of Justice to Nullify Gazetted Nomination of any Candidate






A long 36 days have gone since the Nomination Court sat on 21 June 2023 to approve local authority, parliamentary and presidential candidates for the harmonised general election due in only 26 short days on 23 August 2023, and yet there are over 135 candidate nomination disputes still pending some in the Electoral Court, others in the High Court an at least one in the Supreme Court.





If this is not a state of emergency type of crisis, then nothing is. The situation is extraordinary, unprecedented in Zimbabwe’s electoral history, and arguably with no parallel even in Sadc or across the Continent.

Meanwhile, the ballot papers for the election have not been printed. In terms of section 52A of the Electoral Act – the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) –




@ZECzim is required to inform without delay all political parties and candidates contesting an election, and all observers where and by whom the ballot papers for the election have been or are being printed for the election, and their total number.





ZEC says the printing of the ballot papers has been delayed by the over 135 challenges to the outcome of the Nomination Court 36 days ago on 21 June 2023, whose appeals are still pending in various courts.

But with only 26 days to go before the election on 23 August 2023, the delay in the printing of the ballot papers has now fallen foul of the timelines for postal voting. In terms of section 74 of the Electoral Act, an application for a postal ballot paper must be received by the Chief Elections Officer not later than noon on the 14th day after nomination day of an election.






With the Nomination Court having sat on 21 June 2023, this means that the deadline was 22 days ago on 5 July 2023. But, since the ballot papers have not been printed due to the unresolved candidate nominations still pending in the courts, the 22 days that have gone by in vain.






Time has literally run out for the distribution of postal ballot papers. In terms of section 72 of the Electoral Act persons who qualify for postal voting are those on duty as a member of a disciplined force or as an electoral officer; or on duty in the service of the Government outside Zimbabwe; or outside Zimbabwe as the spouse of a person on duty outside the country in the service of the Government and are thus unable to vote at the polling station where they are registered to vote.





Section 76(4) of the Electoral Act provides that “the Chief Elections Officer shall ensure that each constituency elections officer receives the ballot paper envelopes sent to him or her at least seven days before the polling day or the first polling day, as the case may be, in the election concerned.”





With only 26 days to go before the election, this means there are only 19 days left for @ZECzim to print the ballot papers for the election and to distribute them to qualified persons – who are at different places throughout the country and who are in various countries around all the world – who applied for postal ballots by 5 July 2023 and for those persons to send them back to the Chief Elections who should then forward them to each constituency elections officers by at least seven days before polling day.





The harmonised general election set for 23 August 2023 – consisting of local government, parliamentary and presidential elections – was proclaimed on 30 May 2023, while the Nomination Court sat 36 days ago on 21 June 2023 and the full list of nominated candidates for the three elections was gazetted by @ZECzim 27 days ago, on 30 June 2023. From today, there are only 26 days to go before the election.






This means the candidates whose nomination was gazetted on 30 June 2023 have been campaigning for the last 27 days. ZEC should not have gazetted the full list of nominated candidates before the finalisation of court challenges to the nomination outcome.





To now nullify the gazetted nomination of any candidate on technical grounds, 36 or more days after the fact and 26 or less days before the harmonised general election can no longer be in the interest of justice.






At this juncture, any nullification of the nomination of any candidate whose nomination was gazetted on 30 June 2023 – on technical grounds – would fall foul of Zimbabwe’s founding values and principles outlined in section 3(2) of the Constitution, and would be tantamount to contempt for the people’s right to vote as a hard won gain of the heroic nationalist liberation struggle enshrined in section 67 of the Constitution, and would smack of a corruption and travesty of justice in that justice denied is necessarily justice denied; and hence it would be an indictment of ZEC’s failure to conduct elections transparently and efficiently, as required under section 239 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe!


Robert Tapfumaneyi