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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Monitor - Issue 198
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
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vote war intensifies
An exiled Zimbabwean
who won his case to vote using the postal ballot at the African
Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has taken
matters up in a bid to force Zimbabwe to comply with the continental
Gabriel Shumba is pushing South Africa to tie any funding for Zimbabwe
polls to a condition that people in the Diaspora
are allowed to vote as per the ACHPR ruling. Cash-strapped Zimbabwe
is seeking poll funding from regional countries and South Africa
being the continent’s biggest economy is likely to be a major
fled Zimbabwe in 2003 after being tortured by State security agents,
was unable to vote in the March
referendum despite winning the case he had brought before the
The human rights
advocate had taken the Zimbabwe government to the ACHPR, an organ
of the African Union, to force Harare to allow Zimbabweans living
outside the country to vote using postal ballots.
so far defied the ruling from the continent’s body, leaving
Shumba and millions other exiled Zimbabweans in the cold. With a
watershed general election fast approaching, Shumba has now taken
the matter up with South African President Jacob Zuma, the SADC
appointed facilitator to the Zimbabwean political crisis.
In a letter
to Zuma, Shumba states that South Africa should use its leverage
as a potential funder of Zimbabwe’s elections to push President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s administration
to allow postal voting for ordinary Zimbabweans living outside the
country. “The purpose of this letter, therefore is to request
the Presidency to –
a. Confirm whether
there is any truth in reports that South Africa will fund the elections;
and if so
b. Confirm the
exact amount of the intended funding; and
whether the Presidency is aware of the Government of Zimbabwe’s
defiance of the provisional measures laid down by the ACHPR; and
whether any conditions - such as compliance with internationally
acceptable principles regarding the holding of elections and compliance
with continental human rights instruments and rulings of the ACHPR
in particular - will be imposed on the transfer of South African
funds towards the holding of an election in Zimbabwe,” reads
the letter recently dispatched to Zuma’s offices by Shumba’s
lawyer Willie Spies of Hurter Spies Incorporated of South Africa.
Spies said Shumba
is a representative of “a specific class of persons, namely
Zimbabwean citizens residing in South Africa and elsewhere in the
world due to the circumstances prevailing in Zimbabwe since the
violent oppression of the opposition by government agencies reemerged
in 2000”. Shumba, Kumbirai Tasuwa Muchemwa, Gilbert Chamunorwa,
Diana Zimbudzana and Solomon Sairos Chikohwero, represented by Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, approached the ACHPR in February this
year on the Zimbabwean government’s failure to make provision
for exiles to cast their votes in national elections. ACHPR directed
Zimbabwe to provide all eligible voters the same voting facilities
it affords to Zimbabweans working abroad in the service of the government.
The ACHPR ordered Zimbabwe to take measures to give effect to its
obligations under the ACHPR in accordance with Article 1 of the
African Charter, including in areas of free participation in government.
was ordered to report back to the ACHPR within 15 days from the
date of the communication, has failed to adhere to the ruling of
the fact that no effort has been made to provide for my client and
hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean voters in Diaspora to cast their
vote, the President of Zimbabwe has been pressing ahead with elections
in defiance of, amongst others, the rulings of a respected African
human rights institution such as the ACHPR,” said Spies. Being
a party to the African Charter,
Zimbabwe is bound by the ACHPR’s decisions although the organ
lacks the force to implement its decisions, a situation exploited
by countries such as Zimbabwe to disregard rulings.
living outside the country have been fighting to be allowed to vote
but have faced massive resistance from government. The Constitutional
Court is currently seized with a case brought by a South African-based
bus driver who wants to be allowed to vote in the upcoming elections.
wants the Constitutional Court to declare that sections of the Electoral
Act which bar postal voting for ordinary Zimbabweans infringe
on his rights to have a voice on who governs Zimbabwe.
Minister Hon. Patrick Chinamasa and Registrar-General of Voters
Tobaiwa Mudede, who are cited as respondents, are opposing the application.
They both argue that postal voting for all Zimbabweans living outside
the country would present a logistical and financial nightmare.
In his Notice
of Opposition, Hon. Chinamasa says postal voting would prejudice
his Zanu-PF party, citing targeted travel and financial sanctions
imposed on President Mugabe and a few of his close government, military
and party officials by Western countries in 2002. “The granting
of visas at the discretion of countries that have imposed sanctions
against Zimbabwe means that a number of Western countries are only
accessible to members of the MDC formations. That fact militates
against a conducive level playing field obtaining in those countries,”
argues Hon. Chinamasa.
The matter was
recently postponed by the court while it monitors proposed amendments
to the Electoral Act.
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