ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa has sued the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) for failing to provide him with an electoral voters’ roll, which he says he wants to analyse before the pending elections.
Report by Njabulo Ncube
Documents seen by NewsDay yesterday indicated that Dabengwa filed an application at the High Court seeking an order to compel Zec to provide him with the consolidated national voters’ rolls in an electronic format after several letters written to the elections body.
In his court papers, Dabengwa says he has been battling to get the voters’ roll since last November, despite several written assurances from Zec that he would be provided with an electoral copy at the earliest possible time to enable the Zapu leader to analyse the document.
In the application lodged with the High Court three weeks ago, the former Zipra intelligence supremo stated that failure by the elections body to fulfil its promise to provide him with a copy of the voters’ roll compromised prospects of a credible election.
“The fact that the voters’ roll is not, even at this stage, in effect and in accordance with the law, readily available in the proper electronic format and at a reasonable cost, I respectfully submit, casts an enormous shadow over having what can objectively be considered to be efficient, free, fair and transparent elections in accordance with the law,” Dabengwa said.
He cited provisions of Section 3 of the Electoral Act, which outline the general principles of democratic elections and states that every election should be conducted in a way that is consistent with the principle that every citizen has a right to participate in government directly or through a freely chosen representative.
Dabengwa also refers to Section 21(3) of the Electoral Act, which mandates Zec to provide, within a reasonable time, but subject to payment of a reasonable fee, any citizen of Zimbabwe with a copy of any voters’ roll, either in printed or in electronic format.
“I respectfully submit that by, in effect, withholding the voters’ roll, these provisions are being breached,” Dabengwa continues.
In a letter the Zapu leader wrote in April to Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, he complained that it had taken the commission five months to reply to the original letter from his lawyer, Bryan Elliot of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, ”to issues which the then acting chairperson admitted were urgent in her letter dated January 29, 2013”.
“I respectfully submit that this extraordinary delay is absolutely unsatisfactory and shows a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the commission, especially when dealing with such an important subject matter such as the voters’ roll,” reads the affidavit.
The matter is yet to be heard at the High Court.