Chiwenga's mother-in-law drags Zanu PF to High Court

HARARE – Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s mother-in-law, Helga Mubaiwa, has dragged the ruling Zanu PF party to the High Court challenging the outcome of the recently-conducted primary elections.

Mubaiwa lost the poll to rival, Munyaradzi Kashambe, who was declared the winner to represent Zanu PF as its parliamentary candidate for the Seke constituency, in the forthcoming elections.

In an urgent chamber application filed on Tuesday, Mubaiwa is seeking an order barring the party’s political commissar Engelbert Rugeje and the ruling party from supporting Kashambe until she exhausts all the available remedies in her quest to overturn the outcome of the primary elections.

According to the application, Mubaiwa is the applicant, while Kashambe, Rugeje and Zanu PF are cited as respondents.

“I am a member of the third respondent (Zanu PF), which is a political party registered in Zimbabwe of which the second respondent (Rugeje) is its political commissar who was responsible for administering the said third respondent’s primary elections to select candidates to represent it in the forthcoming harmonised elections.

“I aver that in the said primary elections, I was certified by the second and third respondents amongst many other candidates (the first respondent, Kashambe, included), to participate therein in the hope of representing the Seke rural parliamentary constituency on behalf of Zanu PF,” Mubaiwa said.

She further told the court that the primary elections were meant to be conducted in terms of Zanu PF’s constitution.

Following the outcome of the polls, in which she lost to Kashambe, Mubaiwa noted an appeal with the party.

“For many reasons…, I was aggrieved by the outcome of the said primary election. And after the result was announced on the night of the 9th of May, 2018, I immediately noted an appeal to the relevant authority. It remains pending.

“I have no doubt that my said appeal has positive prospects. In fact, there is a grand chance that a rerun may be ordered as a consequence of my said appeal,” she said.

She, however, said notwithstanding her appeal, Rugeje has gone ahead to present Kashambe as the party’s candidate in the forthcoming elections.

“In fact, the latter respondent (Kashambe) has started enjoying the full benefits of the third respondent’s candidacy as if his winning declaration is not under challenge. He has now drawn the party regalia which he is using to start his campaign,” she said, adding that she stands to suffer irreparable damage if the issue is not dealt with.

She said in the event that she wins the rerun, it would be a mammoth task to undo Kashambe’s campaign tactics and could create confusion with the electorate, a factor which she said has necessitated the current court application.

“I will further aver that whilst I suffer the potential of irreparable harm, the same cannot be said of the respondent even if he is temporarily debarred from presently acting as the third respondent’s candidate. In fact, second and third respondents will suffer no impediment at all in ensuring an efficacious resolution of my appeal so that my challenge goes out of everyone’s way in order to then allow the uncontested winner to start campaigning.

“I observe that there is no other way for me to seek reprieve herein otherwise, than through an urgent chamber application. Firstly, because the first respondent has already started hitting the ground campaigning and secondly, because there is no chance that a normal court application could be concluded before the harmonised elections are held. And because my concerns are merely an internal complaint, once the main elections are held and concluded, I will be rendered remediless. I would obviously have been passed by the opportunity to represent the third respondent, a party of my choice,” she said.

In her grounds of appeal, which are part of the court application, Mubaiwa said there was no updated voters’ roll to facilitate fair and transparent conducting of the primary elections.

“It will be submitted in the above regard that the cell registers that were used in the disputed election were not up to date as required by the governing regulations,” she said, adding that most eligible voters were disenfranchised.

She also attached a report from officer commanding Mashonaland East province Abigail Moyo, who said the ballot papers were not enough in the constituency and that some names were not appearing in the register.

“A report was made to (Mr) Kuchekwa to the effect that many voters had not been able to cast their votes and Kuchekwa instructed that voting would continue on 30 April, 2018 but ballot papers had run out and Kuchekwa improvised some which he gave us.

“Kuchekwa then gave the police 160 litres for the police bus to distribute polling officers and ballot papers. He also gave 60 litres to the constituency for use in his vehicle,” Moyo said in the report.

Mubaiwa is now seeking an order barring Kashambe from campaigning in the Seke constituency, pending the disposition of her appeal and an order barring Rugeje and Zanu PF from treating her rival as the ultimate winner of the primary elections.

The respondents have not yet responded to the application.

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