ABOUT 26 000 members of the security forces and civil servants who failed to cast their ballots under the special voting system two weeks ago, were yesterday granted reprieve after the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) allowed them to vote next Wednesday.
REPORT BY CHARLES LAITON
The relief to allow the security forces, who had fallen victim to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (Zec) bungling of the voting exercise, came about after the electoral body filed an application seeking a reprieve to allow them to exercise their constitutional rights.
Although the application had been opposed by the MDC-T party, the court ruled in favour of Zec, saying every citizen had the right to vote according to the country’s laws.
“Section 67 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe . . . enshrines as a fundamental right of every Zimbabwean adult citizen to vote in all elections,” Chief Justice Godfrey said.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku, who was sitting with eight other ConCourt judges, said failure by the security forces to cast their ballots could not be apportioned to the electoral body alone, but to several factors that included the issue of resources and the Executive.
Part of the order of the ConCourt order reads: “The first applicant (Zec) takes all necessary steps to ensure that its officers and officers under the command of 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents (Commissioner-Generals of Police and Prisons and the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces) authorised to cast their ballots in terms of section 81 of the Electoral Act, who failed to cast their ballots on July 14 and 15, because of the unavailability of ballot papers, be and are hereby allowed to cast their ballots on July 31.”
Tawanda Kanengoni and Charles Nyika represented Zec while the MDC-T was represented by Selby Hwacha. The Commissioner-Generals of Police and Prisons, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga, President Robert Mugabe, Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana were represented by Fortune Chimbaru from the Attorney-General’s Office.
The court also dismissed an application by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) who had filed a separate application seeking its members to be considered for the special vote.
ZUJ was represented by Rodgers Matsikidze.