BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Mutasa Rural District Council (RDC) has announced plans to oppose MDC Alliance Mutasa Central ward 10 councillor Franck Chitembwe’s High Court appeal against the decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to hold a by-election for his seat on May 11, according to court documents.
Chitembwe, whose seat was declared vacant following his incarceration for public violence, had filed an urgent High Court application seeking an order to set aside Zec’s decision to hold a by-election next month.
Chitembwe was slapped with a two-year jail term for public violence during the January 14-16 fuel price hike protests before he successfully applied for bail pending appeal last week.
The matter was heard at the High Court Mutare Circuit on Tuesday before Justice Isaac Muzenda, who postponed it to April 24 after indicating that Mutasa RDC chairperson, Tonderai Bandure, who is cited as the second respondent in the application, wants to oppose it.
Chitembwe’s lawyer Chris Ndlovu of Gonese and Ndlovu Legal Practitioners confirmed the new development to NewsDay yesterday.
“The matter was heard in the chambers at High Court on Tuesday and (Justice) Muzenda postponed the matter to April 24 because Mutasa Rural District Council chairperson was preparing his papers to oppose the application,” he said.
The application also comes after the nomination court sat early this month, with three candidates successfully filing their papers.
Chitembwe cited Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba as the first respondent, while Bandure was cited at the second respondent.
The three candidates — Tanyaradzwa Rose Mukodza (MDC Alliance) Justice Chirimo (NCA) and Magret Tindika (Zanu PF) — were cited as the other respondents.
In his application at the High Court last Friday, Chitembwe said he was seeking the intervention of the court to nullify Zec’s decision to hold the by-election on May 11.
“The first respondent (Zec) has set in motion the process of a by-election in ward 10 of Mutasa Rural District Council. The nomination court has considered and accepted the nominations from prospective candidates,” the application reads.
“Now that I am out of custody and am free to serve my ward and my community, I now seek the honourable court to intervene and set aside the actions of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to hold the by-election in ward 10 of Mutasa Rural District Council.
“In fact, I dare say that at the time the second respondent, Mutasa Rural District Council notified Zec of a vacancy in ward 10 Mutasa Rural District Council, no such vacancy existed.”
In the application, Chitembwe further said: “I had duly filed my notice of appeal and I had not been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty, breach of trust and physical violence.
“Our wish is that the declaration by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of a vacant seat for ward 10 in Mutasa Rural District Council is hereby set aside. The nomination of the third to the fifth respondent as candidates in a scheduled by-election of Mutasa Rural District Council ward 10 be and hereby set aside.”