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Zim's Opposition Teams Up To Challenge Bid To Stop ZEC From Releasing Voters' Roll With Photos

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By Staff Reporter

Zimbabwean opposition political parties and some pro-democracy
campaigners have teamed up to challenge a petition filed by a
registered voter who is seeking to bar the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) from releasing a voters’ roll bearing prospective
voters’ photographs as stipulated by the law.

In an urgent chamber application for joinder to an urgent chamber
application filed by Ethel Mpezeni, a registered voter, the opposition
political parties and the pro-democracy campaigners protested that
they will be seriously prejudiced by the order sought by Mpezeni, who
wants to bar ZEC from releasing a voters’ roll bearing voters’
photographs.

The opposition political parties and the pro-democracy campaigners,
who include MDC Alliance, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe, People’s
Democratic Party, Coalition for Democrats, National Constitutional
Assembly, Theresa Manase, Evan Mawarire, Harrison Nkomo, Jeremiah
Bamu, Douglas Coltart and Warship Dumba, argued that the order sought
by Mpezeni will have a negative implication on the credibility of the
30 July 2018 general elections, which in turn will adversely
jeopardise  the prospects of economic recovery in Zimbabwe, which is
dependent on the outcome of the polls.

Mpezeni recently filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court
seeking to stop ZEC from acceding to demands by various political
parties for the electoral management body to provide them with a
voters’ roll including her photograph or anyone else’s.

In her application, Mpezeni argued that the demands by the opposition
political parties violated her constitutional right to privacy.

Several political parties have asked ZEC to furnish them with a
voters’ roll with photographs in line with the provision of section
9(c) of the Electoral (Voter Registration) Regulations of 2017. The
political parties argue that provision of the voters’ roll in this
format would enhance the transparency of the voters’ roll, which has
been a hotly contested issue in previous elections thereby undermining
the credibility of the outcome of past elections.

In the urgent chamber application filed by Denford Halimani of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who cited Mpezeni, ZEC and Justice
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi as
respondents, the opposition political parties and some pro-democracy
campaigners argued that it is in the public interest for ZEC to issue
a voters’ roll with photographs to minimise areas of contestation
after elections.

The applicants reasoned that the relief sought by Mpezeni is not in
the public interest as it has the effect of undermining widespread
calls for transparency and integrity of the electoral process.

The pro-democracy campaigners and the opposition political parties
argued that every election process must be structured to ensure that
only legitimately registered individuals who appear at the polls to
vote are in fact who they claim to be.

This process, the applicants argued, helps to prevent electoral fraud
because a photograph is a very useful tool to verify the accuracy of
the voters list, to check impersonation and to detect and prevent
multiple registration and curb presence of ghost voters

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