On 14 June 2019, ZESN observed the Nomination Court proceedings for the Lupane East National Assembly by-election scheduled to be held on 3 August 2019. The seat fell vacant following the death of Sithembile Gumbo of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), who was the Member of Parliament (MP) on 5 April 2018. Veritas has raised concerns that the president did not comply with the Constitution in proclaiming the date for the conduct of the by-election. The election will be held after the 90 days period within which a vacancy should be filled in accordance with both Sections 158(3) and 159 of the Constitution, and Section 39 of the Electoral Act.
Opening and closing time
The Nomination Court sat at the Western Commonage Magistrates Court, Mpopoma in Bulawayo. The Court opened on time and also closed on time at 1600 hrs.
At some point, delays were encountered in the processing of applications as some of the aspiring candidates who were not aware of the USD 50 or RTGS 300 that needed to be paid as nomination fees were running around to secure the money. Problems with the swiping machine further caused delay as the ZEC officers had to replace it. Some of the candidates were also struggling to fill in the required forms, repeatedly being called to correct mistakes. At the time the Court closed, applicants were granted 30 minutes to correct mistakes on their applications. ZESN is of the view that this challenge could have been easily averted had the aspiring candidates took time to familiarise with the forms that can be found in the Electoral Act ahead of the Nomination Court day.
Two of the contesting candidates, Morgen Ndlovu of the Labour Economists and African Democrats Party (LEAD) and Andrew Magodla Tshaba of the Mthwakazi Republic Party lodged their applications prior to the of the sitting of the Nomination Court and an announcement to that effect was made by ZEC when the Court opened.
One aspiring candidate, Thomas Sibanda of the United African National Council (UANC), had his application rejected because he could not raise the required nomination fee. Nomination Court Outcome By the time the Court closed, nine candidates had been duly nominated. In the harmonised elections, 12 candidates contested for the Lupane East National Assembly seat. Of the 12, six were nominated for the by-election.
Candidates from different parties were nominated as candidates. These are Andrew Magodla Tshaba of Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP); Morgan Ndlovu of Labourers Economic Party; Given Ncube of Movement for Democratic Change-T (MDC-T); Dalumuzi Khumalo of Movement for Democratic Change–Alliance (MDC-A); Mbongeni Dube of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); Njabulo Sibanda of National Patriotic Front Party (NPF); Alice Sibanda of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA); Gezekile Mkwebu of Zimbabwe African People’s Union Party (ZAPU); and Nelson Bhekinhlalo Mkandla of National Action Party (NAP).
Analysis of the Nomination Court Outcome
Only one of the contesting candidates, Alice Sibanda of the NCA, is a woman. In the interest of promoting the representation of women by other women, more political parties could have fielded female candidates. Even ZANU-PF did not field a female candidate despite the fact that the late former ZANU-PF MP for the constituency was a woman. With more than one candidate declared duly nominated, polling is expected to take place on 3 August 2019 as scheduled.