By Amos Maseko
Harare, July 23, 2013 – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is
set to approach the country’s Constitutional Court (ConCourt) seeking to declare
as unconstitutional provisions of the Electoral Act which deny
individuals disenfranchised through the omissions of the authorities
during the special voting exercise another chance to vote along with
the rest of the population next week.
According to ZEC, 37 108 out of a total of 63 268 members of the uniformed forces who were eligible to vote through the special
ballot system over a week ago, managed to cast their ballots while 26
160 failed to do so after ZEC failed to deliver their ballot papers on
ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe told a stakeholders briefing
dominated by both local and international observers in Harare Tuesday
that the law which denies the affected individuals another chance to
vote does not apply to those disenfranchised by the elections management body’s omissions.
Kazemebe said her organisation will approach the ConCourt to ask the
court to clarify this position.
In addition to the court action, Kazembe said, ZEC was also consulting with political parties, some of which are dismissive of ZEC’s moves.
“…The desire for the commission is to allow all those who were unable
to exercise their right to vote to do so during the ordinary poll
during the 31st of July 2013 whatever the law says,” Joyce Kazembe
“The law says if anybody received authorisation and does not turn up
to vote, that person will not be able to vote on the ordinary polling
day. However, if a person turns up and the EMB (Election Management Board) itself fails to deliver, it is not the problem of the person who has been given the vote.
“The commission is trying to address this matter by actually approaching the Constitutional Court to see what takes precedence, the
right to vote which is a constitutional provision or what is a
provision in the electoral law. So this case should be before the
courts very, very soon.”
But political commentator Rejoice Ngwenya was quick to dismiss the ZEC plans as both illegal and an act of gross duplicity.
“When we asked for an extension for a voter registration they came
back to us with the law saying the law does not allow for an
extension,” Ngwenya said.
“It is incredible to see that ZEC now wants to extend the special
voting saying that they were at fault. They want to violate the law.
They were not willing to violate the same law in the case of voter
registration. Why can they be allowed to violate the law in the case
of general voting? It’s duplicity, it’s hypocrisy, it’s totally illegal.”
If the disenfranchised police officers are granted the second
opportunity to vote, this will present Zimbabwe’s poorly resourced
police force with a major logistical headache as it will have to
deploy nearly half of its staff in wards where they are registered to vote since voting is ward based.
Zimbabwe’s ward based voting system entails that all voters must cast
their ballots in their own wards.