By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 15, 2013 – Zimbabwe’s controversial Registrar General of Voters (RGV)’s Tobaiwa Mudede has apologised for a gaffe which could have disenfranchised a human rights campaigner from casting her vote in last month’s harmonised elections.
Nyasha Sanie, a human rights campaigner with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) registered as a first time voter on July 5, 2013 ahead of the disputed 31 July, 2013 general election in Harare’s Highfield suburb.
However, Sanie was not furnished with a voter registration certificate and was instead advised by Mudede’s officials to collect it after seven working days.
On July 22, 2013, Sanie visited the RGV’s offices to collect the certificate but to her horror, Mudede’s officers told her that they could not find the certificate and no undertaking was made to provide the certificate.
Instead, she was told she should simply verify whether her name appeared on the voters’ roll at the RGV’s Market Square offices.
According to Mudede’s officers, the voter registration certificate was possibly extracted from the book. The officers failed to explain how the missing certificate would not be accounted for.
Aggrieved by the actions of Mudede’s subordinates, Sanie engaged lawyers from ZLHR, who mounted a legal challenge to force Mudede’s office to provide her with the voter registration certificate. On July 29, 2013, on the eve of the election Mudede’s officers – in an apparent effort to avoid an embarrassing litigation discovered Sanie’s voter registration certificate.
In a letter addressed to Sanie’s lawyers, the RGV’s Office apologised for the boob which was certain to fail the human rights campaigner from exercising her democratic right to vote in last month’s harmonised elections.
“Please be advised that the certificates have been located. Kindly advise clients to come and collect with positive identification from our offices at Market Square. In the meantime we apologise for the inconvenience caused,” reads part of a letter dated July 29, 2013 and written to Sanie’s lawyer David Hofisi of ZLHR.
ZLHR, the influential and respected human rights group said many Zimbabweans who registered during the mobile voter registration exercise could have been prejudiced because, unlike Sanie, they lacked access to legal recourse.