Phuti approaches High Court, challenges poll outcome nullification Deputy Minister Dingumuzi Phuti

Mashudu Netsianda, [email protected] 

DEPUTY Minister of Information Communication Technologies, Postal and Courier Services Dingumuzi Phuti has approached the High Court in Bulawayo challenging the nullification of his electoral victory in the August 2023 harmonised elections by a Harare High Court judge.

A default judgment was granted in favour of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for Bulilima in the August 23 harmonised elections, Ms Bekezela Maplanka by Justice David Mangota after Zanu- PF’s Cde Phuti did not oppose the application.

Ms Maplanka had through her lawyers Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers filed an electoral petition challenging Cde Phuti’s victory at the High Court and sought the vote to be nullified.

She also wanted a court order directing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to conduct fresh National Assembly elections for Bulilima Constituency. 

Cde Phuti polled 7 185 votes while Ms Maplanka got 6 660 votes. 

In her court application, Ms Maplanka argued that there were various electoral irregularities such as  voter intimidation, rigging and vote buying.

In his judgment, Justice Mangota nullified Phuti’s victory as duly elected MP for Bulilima and ordered ZEC to prepare a by-election.

“It is ordered that the declaration by the constituency elections officer of Dingumuzi Phuti as the duly elected Member of the National Assembly for Bulilima Constituency in the harmonised elections held on 23 August 2023 is hereby nullified. The National Assembly election in Bulilima Constituency produced an undue return and is nullified,” Justice Mangota.

Cde Dingumuzi Phuti

“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission be and is hereby ordered to conduct fresh National Assembly elections in Bulilima Constituency.” 

Cde Phuti through his lawyer Mr Nqobizitha Ndlovu of Cheda and Cheda Associates filed an urgent chamber application seeking a rescission of the default judgment and condonation for the late filing of opposing papers.

In papers before the court, he cited Maplanka as a respondent.

In his founding affidavit, Cde Phuti said he was not properly served with the election petition filed by Maplanka under HCBCEC29/23 as required by the law.

“I only became aware of the petition and the resultant court order on 23 November 2023 after it was widely publicised on social media. This application is bona fide and brought with a genuine intention of reversing the default judgment obtained by the respondent by stealth and without properly serving me with the petition,” he said.

“I further move the court to   truncate the dies induciae on the basis that the application is urgent and cannot wait on the queue for ordinary court applications.”

Cde Phuti said in terms of section 169 of the Electoral Act, the respondent was supposed to either serve the election petition on him or at his usual or last known address.

“Indeed owing to the sheer importance of the matter which was in contention being an election, I would not have sat on my laurels and failed to respond to court processes which would have been lawfully served,” he argued.

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