The High Court on Wednesday set the stage for a bruising electoral fight pitting two rival Zanu(PF) parliamentary candidates when it allowed Terrence Mukupe and Mavis Gumbo to both contest the Harare East by-election on the ruling party ticket.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu made the ruling after Mukupe had taken the matter to court challenging his disqualification by the nomination court and the recognition of Gumbo as the bona-fide Zanu (PF) candidate.
Justice Bhunu said both Mukupe and Gumbo were proper candidates to represent the ruling party in the Harare East by-election to be held on June 10.
“Thus the nomination officer (Fiona Kurima) fell into the grave error when she attempted to resolve the party’s own internal controversy by preferring one candidate over the other from the same party,” Justice Bhunu said.
“Since both candidates’ papers were in order, the nomination officer had no option but to accept both candidates as duly nominated and leave the party to sort out its own mess and controversy according to its own legal instruments and devices.
“What emerges quite clear is that the nomination officer was confronted by a situation where Zanu (PF) was mired in controversy and divided over which one of the two members should represent it at the forthcoming by-elections for the Harare East constituency.”
The judge further said it was clear and common cause that Mukupe’s papers were in order.
“As I have already stated, it is common cause that the appellant’s papers were in order. They were properly lodged by the authorised party officials vouching that he was the official candidate for the party. His candidature under the banner of his political party, Zanu(PF), was amply confirmed by a high-ranking official of the party, the secretary for commissariat (Saviour Kasukuwere).”
Justice Bhunu added that the controversy in the Harare East constituency appeared to be between the “secretaries for administration (Ignatius Chombo) and commissariat (Kasukuwere)”.
“This is an internal matter that should be resolved internally by resorting to domestic remedies in terms of its constitution and electoral regulations availed at the hearing. Zanu PF and indeed every other political party has the sole right and responsibility to choose its own election candidates. It cannot shift that responsibility to the nomination officer or the courts,” Justice Bhunu said.
“That being the case, the nomination officer’s determination cannot stand. It is accordingly ordered that the decision of the nomination officer be and is hereby quashed and set aside.
“That both the appellant Terrence Mukupe and fourth respondent Mavis Gumbo be and are hereby declared to be the duly nominated candidates for Zanu PF in the 10 June House of Assembly by-elections for the Harare East Constituency. There will be no order as to costs.”