The MDC Alliance has criticised High Court judge Justice Mary Zimba-Dube’s decision to confirm Zanu-PF candidate Dexter Nduna as the winner of the Chegutu West parliamentary elections despite the fact that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) admitted that there were counting errors in the process and confirmed that Konjana had actually won the election. Justice Dube dismissed the application on a technicality which was described by the opposition as “the form and font of the application.”
In a scathing statement, the opposition said,
Judge robs MDC, hides behind technicalities
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An Electoral Court ruling which confirmed Dexter Nduna as the representative of Chegutu East, a constituency which he lost even by the hostile ZEC’s own account is daylight robbery. The judgement marks a sad development for democracy. It exposes the judiciary and removes confidence of the citizen.
When the courts become the robbers, where do we go for redress?
The Judiciary is the soul of constitutionalism, its decisions must be just and fair. Citizens who approach the courts must do so knowing justice will be served without fear or favour. Judgement passed must be based on the strength of one’s case. Put differently, it must be based on the merits.
This is an electoral issue, an exercise meant to find out if the will of the electorate has been correctly pronounced. Anything else is, therefore, a misdirected process. When ZEC admitted that Dexter Nduna had been awarded votes belonging to the MDC, then the case was over.
We have however made the point consistently that elections in Zimbabwe are compromised by three things: Capture, Coercion and Corruption. When capture sadly affects the judiciary then there is a serious problem. The courts are supposed to be beyond reproach like Ceasar’s wife. The Judge was more concerned about the form and font of the application and not the votes of thousands that had been stolen.
Even when ZEC had admitted an error, the Judge still managed to give Zanu PF something from nowhere. This is double bad. She then spent time blaming the lawyer. An injustice is an injustice regardless of the lawyer.
Judges are adjudicators of disputes, not examiners who award marks to the quality of lawyers. Judges must stop blaming lawyers for their bad judgements. Even the EU observer report mentions the deficiency of the courts in dealing with disputes including pre-electoral matters which were dismissed on technicalities.
In our Plan and Environment for A Credible Election (PEACE) we raised the importance of independent dispute resolution mechanisms of electoral disputes. These mechanisms largely include the courts. The Chegutu East development sadly reflects a judiciary unable to adjudicate disputes and deliver justice.
The rules of the electoral court have not been made and standardised. It raises questions on the Chief Justice. What kind of Chief justice fails to ensure standard practice for something as important as an election. A chief justice who is more interested in (the) eviction of vendors sitting outside the courts while failing to deal with the substance of justice inside the courts is not well cut out for office.
He is fast becoming the worst Chief Justice this country ever had. The electoral courts must have standard rules in line with the constitution. On August 2, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission admitted that there were counting errors in the process and confirmed that Konjana had actually won the election. We restate President Chamisa’s five-point plan, part of which entails dealing with impediments to a credible election.
Hon Bekithemba Mpofu
MDC Deputy Spokesperson