Opposition barred from election in Zimbabwe’s 2nd largest city

Zimbabwe’s leading opposition party suffered a significant setback on Thursday ahead of the upcoming national elections next month, as a court disqualified all its candidates contesting seats in the nation’s second-largest city.

The ruling ZANU-PF party is now poised to win all of Bulawayo’s 12 constituencies in the August 23 vote, as the court’s decision paves the way for its parliamentary candidates to run virtually uncontested.

The opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) party, known for its stronghold in the southwestern city, suffered a significant setback as all 12 of its candidates were disqualified by the court, leaving them with no representation in the upcoming elections.

“We condemn this thinly veiled attempt to impose candidates on the citizens of Bulawayo. It’s a dark stain on our democracy,” CCC’s spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere told media.

As the landlocked southern African country prepares for upcoming elections, analysts are predicting a tense vote that will determine the president, legislature, and municipal councils.

Critics have raised longstanding accusations against ZANU-PF, which has held power since independence in 1980, of exploiting the courts to target opposition politicians and stifle dissent.

On Thursday, a judge at Bulawayo’s High Court ruled that the CCC candidates and three other potential opposition lawmakers submitted their nomination papers after the stipulated deadline.

Mahere refuted claims that the CCC submitted its papers late. However, she did not specify whether the party intends to appeal the court’s decision.

The ruling favors, among others, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, who has been accused by critics of overseeing the country’s economic collapse and soaring inflation, and will now run uncontested.

“We will remain a laughing stock in the international community,” lamented Frank Mhlanga, a candidate from the United Zimbabwe Alliance who was also disqualified.

“ZANU-PF are afraid of a proper election because they know they cannot win,” he added.

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