Home » Governance » Chebundo Poll Petition Declared ‘Null and Void’

THE Electoral Court has dismissed an election petition by MDC-T’s losing candidate in Kwekwe Central, Mr Blessing Chebundo, in which he contested Zanu-PF legislator Cde Masango Matambanadzo’s victory in last year’s harmonised polls. Justice Andrew Mutema, sitting in Bulawayo, declared Cde Matambanadzo the legitimate Member of the House of Assembly for the constituency and ordered Mr Chebundo to pay the legal costs incurred.

The court agreed with Cde Matambanadzo’s lawyer, Aocate Fred Gijima, that Mr Chebundo failed to comply with the rules of the Electoral Court, thereby rendering the petition null and void.

“The electoral petition filed by the petitioner is declared a nullity, void and of no force or effect for want of compliance with Rule 21 of the Electoral Court (1995),” ruled Justice Mutema.

“The petition in EC3413 be and is hereby dismissed with costs. Masango Matambanadzo be and is hereby declared to be the duly elected Member of Parliament for Kwekwe Central constituency in the National Assembly elections held on 31 July 3013.”

Mr Chebundo failed to comply with Rule 21(b), which compels a petitioner to state the exact date on which the contested polling took place.

He also failed to comply with Rule 21(c) by not stating the date on which the challenged result was announced.

It was also the court’s finding that Mr Chebundo, in his petition, failed state the exact relief being sought in breach of Rule 21(g) of the Electoral Court.

This set aside a default judgment granted in favour of Mr Chebundo on December 2 last year.

The default judgment declared Kwekwe Central constituency vacant and directed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to set a date for by-election within 10 days.

That prompted Cde Matambanadzo to file two applications: one for rescission of judgment, and an urgent chamber application for stay of execution.

On December 5 last year, the court granted the urgent application for stay of execution pending determination of the rescission application and the actual petition.

On March 17 this year, the parties argued on both the rescission application and the main petition and A Gijima raised the points of non-compliance with Rule 21.

The petition was one of 39 filed at the Electoral Court both in Harare and Bulawayo in which MDC-T losing candidates contested National Assembly election results.

The losing candidates cited vote-buying, voter intimidation, interference of traditional leaders with the people’s rights, and failure by ZEC to provide them with a soft copy of the voters’ roll.

Most of the petitions have been dismissed for lack of evidence.

Source : The Herald