In a highly favourable development for Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters, the Bulawayo High Court has ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct new elections in Bulilima Constituency.
The High Court declared that irregularities marred the elections held in August this year.
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High Court Orders New Elections in Bulilima Constituency
Dingimuzi Phuti of Zanu PF was initially declared the winner in a closely contested race. However, the CCC’s candidate, Bekezela Maplanka, who lost in the race, disputed the outcome. On September 7, she filed a petition at the High Court accusing Phuti of voter intimidation, rigging, and vote buying. Maplanka claimed these actions resulted in an unfair outcome in the general elections held on August 23.
Interestingly, Phuti did not contest Maplanka’s application to nullify the result, leading to Justice David Mangota granting a default judgment.
Despite Phuti’s declared victory with 7,185 votes, the combined opposition tally, including CCC, ZAPU, and the Mthwakazi Republic Party candidates, exceeded Phuti’s total. The opposition candidates collectively received 8,102 votes.
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Maplanka alleged that during the August 23 elections, Zanu PF placed agents with tables outside polling stations, engaging in illegal activities. These agents maintained registers of people entering polling stations and targeted elderly voters whom they assisted in voting. Maplanka also claimed that Zanu PF agents were actively campaigning in villages on election day, violating the law by providing tokens in the form of prepared meals and drinks to voters.
Maplanka’s lawyer, Khulekani Sibanda, expressed confusion about Phuti’s lack of opposition to the application but clarified that the Zanu PF candidate was properly served with the papers.
Meanwhile, Justice Mangota is expected to deliver a ruling on a petition challenging the outcome of the Insiza South constituency election, also won by Zanu PF. CCC’s Paul Sifanjani Moyo contested the victory of Spare Sithole, citing electoral malpractice. Sithole won by 633 votes, polling 8,072 votes against Moyo’s 7,439.
Another petition for Gwanda South is opposed and will be argued on November 29. Omphile Marupi of Zanu PF won that close election by 842 votes. His victory is being contested by Patrick Dube of CCC, who polled 5,099 votes.