A bitter-sweet experience for candidates

Today Women’s Institute for Leadership Development joined citizens, civil society organizations and international election observers in witnessing proceedings of the nomination of House of Assembly and Local Government candidates in Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and Matabeleland North provinces. Reports obtained from the different Nomination Court venues generally highlighted the relatively peaceful environment in which nomination was carried out.

Most nomination venues opened on time and presiding officers made sure they attended to nominees who were already inside courts by the time of closing at 1600hrs. There was also strict adherence to court deportment and etiquette as some candidates were not attended to for failure to live up to expected behavior. For instance, outgoing Member of Parliament for Mangwe and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Obedingwa Mguni was turned away from the Matabeleland South Nomination Court in Gwanda for casual dressing and was only attended to, hours later after appearing appropriately dressed.

However, the absence of a voter’s roll presented challenges to some candidates whose nomination papers were signed by citizens who were allegedly not registered to vote. A female aspiring local government candidate in Bulawayo was disqualified after presiding officers noted inconsistencies in her voter registration status. She initially registered to vote in Lupane and later transferred her name to a polling station in Bulawayo, in a ward she hoped to contest in. However, her name did not appear on the presiding officers’ “database”.

Women Empowered for Leadership Program (#WE4PL) mentorship program alumni Sichelesile Mahlangu (M.P Pumula Constituency), Nappy Moyo, Sithokozile Sibanda (Council, Gwanda Central) and Lungile Masuku (Senate) successfully submitted their nomination papers by 1600hrs.

It was also noted that in some areas, particularly in Local Authority Nomination Courts, some parties had more than one candidate per ward.

The nomination exercise did not end without drama, as Mthwakazi Republic Party’s Vice President was allegedly detained after her mobile phone rang within the courtroom. It was alleged that her detention would result in failure – of MRP House of Assembly candidates – to submit their papers as she is a signatory on all Bulawayo candidates. As if this was not enough, other nominees showed up at the eleventh hour to hand in their nomination papers but all – hell – broke – loose when some of their nomination papers were in disarray and they were eventually excused.

Key electoral cycle lesson: When going to a war, carry your gun and don’t leave your bullets.

Source: Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)

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