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Zanu-PF activist Tonderai Chidawa loses delimitation challenge at ConCourt

The Constitutional Court yesterday threw out an application by Zanu PF activist Tonderai Chidawa who was seeking to nullify the controversial delimitation exercise.

Chidawa had dragged the Parliament of Zimbabwe to court challenging the legality of the delimitation report the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) submitted to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Through his lawyer Lovemore Madhuku, Chidawa had asked the report to be redone arguing it was unconstitutional.

But a ConCourt bench chaired by Chief Justice Luke Malaba dismissed his application.

Chidawa argued that the report was signed by two commissioners out of nine, questioning whether it was a result of ZEC as a body corporate or just its two members Cathrine Mpofu and Shepherd Manhivi, whose signatures are not appearing on the report.

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“I believe that Parliament has failed to fulfil a constitutional obligation,” argued Chidawa.

“This failure has arisen in respect of the processes that have unfolded following the tabling in Parliament by the President of a preliminary delimitation report in terms of section 161(7) of the Constitution.

“The preliminary delimitation report tabled before Parliament was not signed by any of the Commissioners, a fact so glaring that Parliament ought to have sprung into action when I raised the issue, given that previous such reports were signed by all commissioners.”

On 7 January, Chidawa wrote to the Speaker of Parliament requesting that the Delimitation exercise be redone.

In delivering the judgment, Malaba said “no cause of action had been pleaded against the respondent.”

“It is ordered that this application be and is hereby dismissed with no order as to costs.”

Madhuku said his client was not happy with the outcome.

“It’s a very disappointing judgement. It is disappointing in the sense that the court refused to have a look at section 119 and obligations of parliament.

“I suspect that the court does not want to interpret section 119 to go as far as we had put it,” he said.

On 14 March 2023, opposition MDC Alliance leader Douglas Mwonzora also filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking the nullification of the delimitation report.

Despite the report having been gazetted by the President on the 20th of February 2023, Mwonzora argues that the delimitation report does not meet the requirements of section 161 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.