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Chinamasa scoffs at group's application
The Herald
February 02, 2005

THE action by Zimbabweans living abroad to file a constitutional application seeking to invalidate the Government’s decision to exclude them from participating in the forthcoming parliamentary elections was a political stance by the country’s detractors to disturb the electoral process, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, said yesterday.

He said the legal position was clear because the Constitution of Zimbabwe allows residents to register as voters if they want to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

"It is a frivolous and vexatious application. They are free to come back home and vote provided they are registered like anybody else," said Cde Chinamasa.

He said the Government would strongly oppose the application because such actions were a clear abuse of the court process.

"We are under sanctions from Western countries like Britain and the United States, among others, so how do they expect officials to travel to those countries to prepare the long process to enable them to vote?" he said.

The State, which indicated intention to file its opposing papers yesterday, is now expected to do so today.

A group called the Diaspora Vote Action Group last week filed an urgent chamber application seeking to be allowed to vote.

The group, which claimed to be of registered voters, argued that their exclusion from participating in the parliamentary and presidential elections was against the provision of the country’s Constitution, hence they want the court to nullify the Government’s decision.

It also wants the Government to set up all necessary structures to enable registered voters abroad to exercise their right in March and in all future elections.

Late last year, Cde Chinamasa told Parliament that the country’s Constitution bars people not residing in a constituency from voting and allowing that would result in the appearance of ghost voters.

He said even if the Constitution allowed Zimbabweans who are not resident in the country to vote, registration of such people would not be possible as both the political and public service leadership of the country had been banned from travelling to such countries as Britain and US at the instigation of the opposition MDC.

Cde Chinamasa also pointed out that Zanu-PF would be at a disadvantage because its leadership could not travel to these countries to campaign.

He said the country’s electoral system was constituency-based.

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