In a decisive and potentially game-changing verdict, Harare High Court Justice Never Katiyo yesterday barred 22 members of the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) from participating in the upcoming Saturday by-elections.
This ruling follows an intense legal struggle initiated by the CCC’s interim secretary general, Sengezo Tshabangu, who was represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri.
Tshabangu's urgent chamber application sought the disqualification of the 22 CCC MPs and senators who were recalled earlier this year.
Justice Katiyo's ruling emphatically stated that these individuals, including notable figures like Pashor Sibanda, Bright Moyo, Obert Manduna, and Jasmine Toffa, among others, were not to be recognised as CCC candidates in the imminent by-elections.
"The decision of the Nomination Court to accept the nomination papers and candidature of the first to 22nd respondents for election in the by-elections set for December 9, 2023, is unlawful, of no force and effect, and hereby set aside," Justice Katiyo proclaimed.
Furthermore, the judge instructed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Minister of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi to exclude these MPs and senators from the ballot papers in the by-elections.
The legislators were also interdicted from representing themselves to the public and electorate as candidates in the by-elections, whether in person or through any media channels.
In a concluding note, Justice Katiyo ordered that the 22 respondents, together with the CCC, to bear the costs of the legal proceedings on an ordinary scale, further emphasising the weight and consequences of this judicial decision.
This landmark ruling emerged amidst a backdrop of political turmoil. In October this year, Tshabangu made the decision to recall 14 MPs and eight senators, citing their cessation of membership with the CCC, leading to an immediate backlash from the affected legislators.
Despite facing defeats in their subsequent legal battles in both the High Court and the Supreme Court, the recalled MPs remained undeterred and filed their nomination papers for the by-elections under the CCC banner.
This led Tshabangu to challenge ZEC’s decision to accept their candidature, culminating in this dramatic courtroom showdown.
Political analyst, Nobleman Runyanga said that the ruling signifies a pivotal moment in Zimbabwe's political narrative, indicating a turbulent path ahead for the CCC and the broader political dynamics of the nation as it approaches a critical electoral juncture.
Attempts to secure a statement from the CCC regarding their planned response to the recent court ruling proved unsuccessful.
Despite multiple efforts, both the party's spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi, and his deputy, Gift Ostallos Siziba, were unreachable for comments, as calls to their phones went unanswered.