THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday said Zanu PF wrongly cited it as a respondent in some of the 53 electoral petitions the party lodged with the Electoral Court.
In a preliminary hearing before Judge President Justice Rita Makarau yesterday, the court heard of the failure of some Zanu PF petitioners to serve court papers within the prescribed period and service of papers at wrong addresses.
The lawyer representing ZEC, George Chikumbirike, told the Electoral Court that it had been wrongly cited in electoral petition cases as at law the petitioners where supposed to cite the chairman, George Chiweshe, as the respondent.
Chikumbirike asked the High Court to remove the ZEC as a respondent from the applications as the electoral body is an impartial commission which should not be seen as siding with any political party.
The ZEC lawyer said at law the electoral court was supposed to make a report to the electoral commission after hearing the petitions, but there will be no need to do that if the election body was in court.
Advocate Happious Zhou who was representing the MDC submitted that the petitioners failed to serve their petitions within the 10-day limit.
According to the country’s electoral law, petitions must be served within 10 days from the day they are filed at the Electoral Court.
Zhou argued that some of the electoral challenges were served after the time limit had expired.
The MDC lawyer said the petitioners had erred by serving their challenges at the party’s headquarters, Harvest House, as it not the personal or business address of the respondents.
Makarau reserved judgment in the matter saying she needed time to consider submissions from all sides.
“I need time to consider submissions from both sides and hopefully by Wednesday I will deliver judgment,” Makarau said.
The High Court will hear at least 105 petitions filed by losing candidates of both Zanu PF and MDC.
Zanu PF in its petitions is arguing that “British and American-imposed sanctions” on Zimbabwe created an uneven playing field that resulted in the MDC-Tsvangirai winning the elections.
Zanu PF candidates challenged parliamentary results in 53 constituencies won by the MDC-Tsvangirai on the grounds of general electoral fraud and malpractices of a broad and significant nature as to affect the electoral outcome.
The MDC-Tsvangirai, which filed 52 electoral petitions, accused ZEC of malpractices and general electoral fraud.
The MDC-Tsvangirai is arguing that there was open vote-buying and denial of access to GMB-procured maize to its perceived members and that traditional leaders were used to intimidate and harass opposition supporters and to canvass support for Zanu PF.
By Lucia Makamure