HARARE – High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu has dismissed losing MDC House of Assembly candidate for Mt Pleasant Jameson Timba’s application to be furnished with an electronic voters’ roll.
Timba sought an order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to re-open ballot boxes for the July 31, election for the constituency, citing electoral malpractices and irregularities.
He also sought an order to be provided with an electronic voters’ roll.
In the application, Timba cited the chief elections officer, Zec chairperson, Zec, Jason Passade and Peter Mukuchamana as respondents.
Timba’s lawyer Trust Maanda had told the court the respondents should not be heard in court because they had filed their responses to the application outside the time limit of 10 days.
However, Bhunu dismissed Maanda’s request to bar the respondents from being heard.
“It is anomalous and untenable that he (Maanda) now seeks to bar the respondents from being heard when they have already been heard with his active participation and collusion,” Bhunu said. “Philosophically speaking, he now seeks to close the stables after the proverbial horses have bolted under his nose with his eyes wide open.”
Pertaining to the electronic voters’ roll, Bhunu said Timba should have brought evidence before the court to prove that the commission’s electronic equipment was now functional.
He said in the absence of such proof, the application would not succeed.
“It is accordingly ordered, that the applicant’s application to be provided with the voters’ roll in electronic form be and is hereby dismissed,” Bhunu said.
The matter came back to court after a purported consent order failed to materialise, following Zec’s denial to abide by Timba’s request.
Maanda accused Zec of negating from its initial position to have the ballot boxes re-opened.
In his judgment Bhunu said negotiations for a consent order were not part of the record, since he did not record anything.
He said to date he had not yet received the draft consent order because parties failed to agree.
“It is unthinkable and ridiculous in the extreme for anyone to snatch at whatever was said in confidential negotiations and rush to the press and the whole world to announce that the court had made an order in terms discussed at the hearing in chambers,” Bhunu said.
Bhunu further said there was no substance in Maanda’s submission, pertaining to a binding consent order that took place in his chambers.
“It is surprising that (Mr) Maanda as a senior lawyer would want to cling onto a non-existent consent order which he alleges was instigated by a lawyer who lacked necessary mandate to bind his principal,” Bhunu said.
He further said Zec’s lawyers Tawanda Kanengoni and Charles Nyika’s submissions were “reasonable and eminently professional.”
Meanwhile, 12 other MDC election petitions will be heard at the High Court beginning today, after the court dealt with preliminary issues yesterday.