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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • ZEC files application for special vote reprieve
    Daniel Nemukuyu, The Herald
    July 24, 2013

    View this article on The Herald website

    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has filed a constitutional application seeking an order allowing the 26 160 security forces and civil servants who failed to participate in special voting to cast their ballot on July 31. Out of the 63 268 voters comprising ZEC officials, police officers, soldiers and prison officers who were registered to vote using the special voting system on July 14 and 15 this year, only 37 108 managed to exercise their voting rights while 26 160 failed due to logistical challenges.

    ZEC late yesterday filed the application at the Constitutional Court following letters of complaint from Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti.

    The commission’s chairperson Justice Rita Makarau also issued a press statement expressing concern over the failure by some officials to cast their vote. The application was filed at the same time the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists had filed its separate application for journalists to be considered in the special voting.

    ZUJ lawyer Mr Rodgers Matsikidze of Matsikidze and Mucheche are seeking an order compelling ZEC to allow journalists, who will be out in different provinces covering elections on July 31, to be given an opportunity to vote before the date for harmonised elections. Mr Tawanda Kanengoni and Mr Charles Nyika of Nyika, Kanengoni and Partners are representing ZEC in its application for the security forces to be allowed to vote.

    Justice Makarau, in a founding affidavit forming part of the application, attributed the failure to vote to logistical challenges. “Due to a myriad of logistical constraints, some of which are inherent in the special vote itself, the first applicant (ZEC) was unable to post to each successful special voter his or her requisite ballot paper in the time frame fixed for the special vote.

    “As a result of the challenges that besest the administration of the special vote, 26 160 members of the disciplined forces and officers of the first applicant were unable to vote,” she said.

    The number of officers who failed to cast their vote, according to Justice Makarau, represents 41,3 percent of voters who qualified to cast the special vote. Justice Makarau argues that the officers were entitled to vote and that they should not be disenfranchised because of the delays they did not cause. She emphasised that there was no basis on which the officers’ right to vote could be taken away.

    “The Constitution of Zimbabwe in section 67(3) (a) enshrines as a fundamental right in the Declaration of Rights the right of every Zimbabwean adult citizen to vote in all elections.

    “Section 155 of the Constitution, which sets out the principles of the electoral system in Zimbabwe, provides in subsection (2), that the State is obliged to take all appropriate measures to ensure that every citizen who is eligible to vote in an election has an opportunity to cast a vote.

    “Section 3 of the Electoral Act further sets out the principles of democratic elections and lays emphasis on the right of all citizens to vote,” she said. Justice Makarau also stated in her affidavit that the people who failed to vote were deprived of their right to administrative justice as provided for under Section 68 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

    She also urged the court to put in place conditions that ensure those who have already voted cannot repeat when those who were left out in the process are afforded an opportunity to vote.

    “What must be guarded against, to achieve the objectives of Section 81B(2) of the Electoral Act, is to ensure that the 37 108 persons that managed to cast their ballots on the 14th and 15th of July 2013, be barred from casting a second vote(s) on the 31st of July 2013.

    “The mechanism for doing so is provided for in terms of Section 81 D(3) of the Electoral Act,” she said. ZUJ, through its lawyers Matsikidze and Mucheche are seeking to be treated the same way with the uniformed forces and ZEC officials who are entitled to special voting. The application was filed on Friday and it is yet to be set down for hearing.

    ZUJ filed an urgent chamber application with the Constituitional Court seeking an order allowing their main case to be heard on an urgent basis. It is yet to be set down for hearing.

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