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Monday, January 30, 2023
HomeNewsBy-Elections Order Undermines Judiciary Integrity: ERC

By-Elections Order Undermines Judiciary Integrity: ERC

Election advocacy group, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) has questioned the efficiency of the mechanisms around resolving electoral disputes following a recent High Court ruling which overturned an earlier order by the same court stopping by-elections in constituencies and wards occupied by members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

In a long running legal battle, six legislators from PDP approached the High Court challenging their recall from parliament by the party.

Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled in their favour ordering ZEC to stop by-elections in Harare East, Kambuzuma, Mbizo, Mutasa South, Nkulumane and Pumula constituencies.

However, barely 24hrs had lapsed, Justice Never Katiyo overturned the order forcing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to re-open nomination courts for the six constituencies.

In a statement, the ERC said the conflicting court orders undermine the reliability and honest of the judiciary in resolving election disputes.

“The proclamation and reopening of the nomination court coming in the midst of legal uncertainty brought about by the judgment of Justice Chitapi and an unclear contradictory order by Justice Katiyo in the High Court is very unfortunate and raises more questions than answers about the efficacy and propriety of the current election dispute resolution mechanisms especially by the judiciary.

“The decision taken by the President and the Commission following the contradictory court orders undermines the credibility and integrity of the judiciary and election dispute resolution mechanisms; potentially subverts the constitutional rights of citizens and has also the potential to unravel the rules and principles aimed at guiding Zimbabwe’s democracy, especially the principle that elections should be guided by procedural certainty and outcome uncertainty,” reads part of the statement.

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The advocacy group called on the electoral body to seek guidance from the Constitutional Court in relation to the validity of the election declaration.

“The ERC calls on the Commission to approach the Constitutional Court for an immediate advisory opinion on the legality of the proclamation and the subsequent sitting of the nomination court held on 28 January 2022 given its potential to undermine the sacred centrality of the rights of the electorate in representative democracy,” said the group.

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