Court orders Binga by-election freeze after candidates dodge council bills

BINGA – Zimbabwe’s High Court has ordered the cancellation of five council by-elections that were set to be held this weekend owing following some objections that were filed against the nomination of CCC candidates.

In a ruling, Justice Chitapi barred the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) from holding by-elections for Binga RDC wards 6, 8, 10, 15 and 23 due an objection filed by Colleen Mudenda, who claimed that some of the opposition CCC candidates owed council unspecified amounts of money in terms of unpaid bills.

Mudenda challenged the nominations of John Simunene Sikabotu, Kingson Mpofu, Mathias Mudenda, Joseph Mwembe, and Wilson Siampolomba.

The cited candidates were disqualified from contesting the polls in terms of Section 119 (2) (h) of the Electoral Act which states that; “A person shall be disqualified from being nominated as a candidate on the nomination day or the day of an election when he or she is in default with the payment of any levy, rate, charge, or tax due and payable to the council concerned for more than 120 days.”

“The elections set for December 3, 2022 for the election of councillors for wards 6, 8, 10, 15 and 23 of Binga Rural District Council be and are hereby suspended,” Justice Chitapi, the High Court judge ruled.

The High Court ordered that the Commission should not proceed with the by-elections for the five wards pending the hearing of their cases which was postponed to January 4, next year.

However, despite the Binga order, by-elections for ward 20 of Binga Rural District Council, wards 4, 5 and 18 of Gweru Municipality, and ward 28 of Mberengwa Rural District Council were set to go ahead as scheduled.

The six Binga RDC polls became vacant following the recall of six councillors by the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T.

Binga, one of the country’s most poor communities, has proven to be tough terrain for the ruling party which has failed to break the opposition stranglehold in the Matabeleland North area for many years.

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