Thursday, 12 July 2018

JAILED MDC ACTIVISTS GO TO COURT OVER VOTING


The High Court has reserved judgment in the case in which two jailed MDC activists are seeking an order compelling the Government to allow them to vote in this month’s harmonised elections.

Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama are serving prison terms of 20 years each at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

They were convicted in December 2016 of murdering Inspector Petros Mutedza at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre in May 2011 together with Yvonne Musarurwa.

Musarurwa was freed in an amnesty early this year. The trio sued the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

It is the trio’s contention that Zimbabwe is due for general elections in a few weeks time and they are entitled to exercise their political rights regardless of their status as detainees.

Justice Clement Phiri yesterday heard the application and reserved his ruling after hearing submissions from all the parties’ lawyers. It emerged during the hearing that there was no dispute that prisoners have a right to vote.

ZEC, which was being represented by Mr Tawanda Kanengoni, argued that prisoners’ remedy lies in lobbying Parliament, as ZEC cannot be compelled to act in the absence of enabling legislation.

The ministry’s lawyer Ms Fortune Chimbaru argued that the law was clear and hence no need for judicial pronouncement.

“All prisoners needed to do was to make logistical and administrative arrangements with prison authorities,” said Ms Chimbaru.

Mr Jeremiah Bhamu of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights argued the matter for the trio.

Mr Bhamu argued that though the law was clear, the need for judicial pronouncement arose in that for 38 years after independence nothing has been done to facilitate voting by prisoners.

“It is, therefore, necessary to compel ZEC to put in place measures required for prisoners to vote and in the alternative for the minister to be compelled to sponsor legislation to make a provision for the mechanism through which prisoners may vote,” argued Mr Bhamu.

In their application, the trio wanted the High Court to force the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, and ZEC as the elections management body, to register them on the national voters roll and facilitate their voting on election day.

Their application was set down for hearing this month although it had been filed in June 2017. Herald

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