THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) yesterday said it will approach the Constitutional Court (Concourt) to seek an exemption from complying with the Electoral Act, to enable members of the uniformed forces that failed to cast their ballots during the special voting process to do so on July 31.
REPORT BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI/ WONAI MASVINGISE
Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe told international and local observers accredited to monitor the polls that they had engaged political parties to map the way forward.
There are 1 500 foreign and 18 000 local observers that have been accredited so far.
Kazembe said it would be unfair to disenfranchise police officers and other people who could not cast their votes because the commission was responsible for their failure to vote. The people that failed to vote had presented themselves at the polling stations in time and therefore it was not their fault that they failed to do so, she said.
“So the desire of the commission is to allow all those who were unable to exercise their right to vote to do so during the ordinary polling on the 31st of July 2013, whatever the law says. The law says if anybody receives authorisation and doesn’t turn up to vote, the person will not be able to vote on the ordinary polling day,” she said.
“However, if the person turns up and the EMB (electoral monitoring body) itself fails to deliver, it’s not the problem of the person. The commission is addressing this matter by approaching the Constitutional Court to see what takes precedence: the right to vote, which is a constitutional provision, or the provision which is in the electoral law. So this case will be before the courts soon.”
Kazembe said although the commission issued 65 956 authorisations, 37 108 police officers were able to vote while 26 160 failed to do so. The other 2 688 applications were, however, rejected for various reasons.
The figures presented by Zec yesterday differed from those issued by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa last week. Chinamasa reportedly said only 29 000 people out of the 69 000 that had been approved to vote were able to cast their ballots.
Legal expert Tawanda Zhuwarara said Zec was in a quandary because legally, such an appeal could only have been done within seven days of the special vote for it to be treated as an urgent matter.
“For a matter to be treated as urgent, one has to approach the courts before seven days elapse to demonstrate the urgency of the matter. The law favours the diligent. If you do not show diligence, it is unlikely that the law will entertain your request,” Zhuwarara said.
“I am not sure whether Zec can successfully approach the courts for an urgent remedy to the situation. For one to be granted urgent relief the law requires that you approach the courts timeously. It is now over seven days since the failure of the special vote exercise. In my view, Zec is in a legal quandary of immense proportions.”
Kazembe said Zec was now ready for elections as they had everything required in terms of voting material.
“We are currently carrying the consignments (of printed ballot papers) to four provinces right now. We have completed the material for six provinces and the remaining four will be completed tomorrow (today),” she said.