NOMINATION courts in the southern region were yesterday overwhelmed by the number of candidates who wanted to submit their papers with the process stretching way beyond 4PM, the announced closing time.
About 128 political parties are jostling for representation in the harmonised elections set for July 30.
There was a huge turnout of aspiring candidates at Tredgold Buildings in Bulawayo to submit their nomination papers for the National Assembly, Senatorial and Proportional Representation for seats in the metropolitan province.
Of note was the camaraderie that existed among candidates, a refreshing change from the hostility along party lines that had become the norm in previous elections.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) presiding officer for Bulawayo province, Mr Innocent Ncube, announced names of those who had submitted their papers during the pre-nomination process before receiving the new submissions.
The huge number of aspiring candidates continued to increase even after the 4PM deadline and some were accommodated at the last minute.
By 7PM, Zec officials were still receiving submissions from the candidates.
Aspiring candidates who spoke to The Chronicle commended Zec for conducting the process in a smooth and professional manner.
Zanu-PF MP for Pelandaba-Mpopoma, Cde Joseph Tshuma, who was one of the first candidates to successfully submit their papers, said although Zec was overwhelmed with a huge number of aspiring candidates, they handled the nomination process well.
“I am happy the process went well despite the delays because of the huge numbers. I am now looking forward to retaining my seat on behalf of my party Zanu-PF,” he said.
MDC Alliance candidate for a senatorial seat Mr David Coltart said: “The number of aspiring candidates was quite overwhelming and surely what can you expect during the nomination.”
Zapu candidate for the National Assembly seat in Bulawayo Central Mr Strike Mkandla hailed Zec, saying the electoral body was efficient in the manner it handled the exercise.
Some aspiring candidates, notably MDC-T National Assembly candidate for Njube Mr Gift Banda, were initially turned away because their papers were not in order and they had to quickly rectify the anomaly.
Scores of aspiring councillors turned up at the Bulawayo Small City Hall to file their nomination papers. By 10AM, the council chambers were swarming with aspiring candidates.
Zec officials attended to them promptly.
Presiding officer, Mrs Sithembiso Khuphe said 328 candidates had filed their nomination forms.
She said 221 candidates filed their papers before the Nomination day with 107 filing yesterday.
By 7PM yesterday there were nine pending cases.
“We cannot announce results before we have solved the pending cases before us. The candidates would have to say whether they are withdrawing or doing the corrections. We are likely to announce by midnight,” said Mrs Khuphe.
Outgoing councillors also filed their papers with some of them expressing hope that they will be re-elected.
At West Commonage Court in Bulawayo where candidates from different political parties in Matabeleland North province were submitting their nomination papers, the Zec presiding officer Mr Mark Ndlovu announced names of those who had submitted their papers during the pre-nomination process before receiving the new submissions. Those aspiring to be councillors were submitting their papers at nomination courts set up in every district in their province.
Hundreds of aspiring candidates from different political parties flooded the courts to submit their papers, resulting in the presiding officers failing to complete the process by 4PM.
By 7PM, Zec officers were still receiving submissions from the candidates who had arrived at the courts before 4PM.
Although it took longer than expected, the candidates hailed Zec for the smooth process, saying the new dispensation was leading by example. They said people should co-exist in harmony, regardless of their political affiliation.
Candidates said they were impressed by the relationship among people from different political parties, which shows that the country’s democracy has matured tremendously.
In Binga, the Nomination Court sat at the Binga Rural District Council boardroom where presiding officers from ZEC received and checked nomination papers from aspiring councillors from different parties.
The aspiring candidates said they presented their nomination forms and other documents without hussles as they had prepared well.
Mr Otai Matibeki who wants to contest ward 14 for Zapu said he wanted to ensure the local authority provides water to the district. Cde Makemore Mudimba who is representing Zanu-PF in Ward six said his agenda will be around development of water bodies and schools.
Cllr Judith Sibanda, the MDC Alliance sitting councillor who is seeking re-election for ward 24, said she was concerned that she was the only female councillor for Binga rural out of the 24 wards. She encouraged women to take up positions.
In Midlands Province, the Nomination Court for Senatorial, National Assembly, Provincial Council and Women’s Quota sat at the Gweru Magistrates Court. The submission of the nomination papers started at 10AM.
The Nomination Court closed at 4PM.
ZEC Midlands Elections Officer, Mrs Dorcas Mpofu, said she was still to compile the total number of candidates who had submitted their nominations papers by 4PM.
“We are still looking at papers of those whom we asked to bring enough documentation that was required. We are still to count the total number of the people who submitted their nomination papers,” she said.
Zanu PF Midlands Provincial spokesperson Cde Cornelius Mpereri said all 40 Zanu PF aspiring candidates had successfully submitted their nomination papers. MDC Alliance Gweru Urban aspiring candidate Advocate Brian Dube said his party was happy with the nomination process.
Former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Tapiwanashe Matangaidze submitted his papers as an independent candidate for Shurugwi South. He was last year expelled from Zanu-PF on allegations of fanning factionalism.
Zanu-PF replaced Cde Gladys Simango, who was a candidate under the women’s quota, who died on Tuesday, with Cde Miriam Makweya who was the first runner-up in the primary elections. Former Zanu PF Member of Parliament for Kwekwe Central Masango Matambanadzo filed his nomination papers under National Patriotic Front (NPF). Kwekwe Central has 12 aspiring candidates who have filed their papers.
There was chaos in the MDC Alliance camp when two candidates Messrs Osherd Mutunhami and Daniel Mabonga, who are both vying for Shurugwi South constituency, showed up to file their papers. Mr Mabonga was forced to withdraw and filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate in protest after Mr Mutunhami was imposed as the MDC Alliance candidate.
In an interview, Mr Mabonga said he was endorsed by MDC Alliance president Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
Candidates from Matabeleland South Province filed their nomination papers for the national assembly, senatorial, women’s quarter and provincial council to the nomination court at the Gwanda Magistrate’s Court.
In an interview, Zanu-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, who filed his papers for Bulilima Mangwe senatorial seat, said the day was important not only to the Zanu-PF party but the whole nation.
He said the party was optimistic that all candidates would make it through the nomination courts as they had made a thorough check to ensure all papers were in order.
Zanu-PF National Assembly candidates; Cdes Albert Nguluvhe (Beitbridge East) and Ruth Maboyi (Beitbridge West); senator for Beitbridge Tambudzani Mohadi and Proportional Representation Legislature Lisa Singo filed their papers at the Gwanda Magistrate Court.
Cde Nguluvhe said he was confident of winning the seat with a comfortable margin. A total of 42 candidates successfully filed their documents to participate in this year’s local government elections in Beitbridge’s rural 15 wards.
The successful candidates were from Zanu PF, MDC Alliance, FreeZim Congress and People’s Rainbow Coalition.
Cde Sibongile Chauke (Zanu PF) was on cloud nine after she was declared the councillor for Lesanth Ward 13 where no other candidate had challenged her.
Meanwhile, our Harare Bureau, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday said it was satisfied with the way the nomination process proceeded despite incidents of violence by the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance.
In an interview at Harare Magistrates Court where she visited to assess the process, Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, however, said there were reports violence.
“It is quite satisfactory. I just want to reiterate that Zec has availed copies of provisional voters roll. We are assisting aspiring candidates those who might not know if those who have nominated them are in the voters roll,” said Justice Chigumba.