Braille ballot papers: Judgment reserved

0
1939

HIGH Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe last week reserved judgment in a matter in which a visually-impaired potential voter, Abraham Mateta, had petitioned the court seeking an order to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to print Braille ballot papers for the special group to exercise their right to vote without being assisted in the upcoming general elections.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Through his lawyers Innocent Maja and Justice Mavedzenge, Mateta filed an urgent court application in the High Court on May 11, 2018 seeking an order to compel Zec, and among other requests, to print some ballot papers in Braille, to print the template ballot or to provide tactile voting devices for the visually-impaired potential voters.

In the application, the lawyers, who are members of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), argued that Mateta, who is visually-impaired and many other visually-impaired eligible voters, have the right to cast their vote in secret or by secret ballot, which is guaranteed in Section 67(3) of the Constitution.

They said Mateta’s fundamental rights were likely to be violated if Zec and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Prince Machaya, who were cited respondents in the application, did not put in place measures to print ballot papers in Braille or to print template ballot or to arrange tactile voting devices for use in the impending general elections.

In his founding affidavit filed alongside the urgent chamber application, Mateta argued that certain key amendments to the Electoral Act had not been made despite promises by the government to effect the necessary changes to the country’s electoral law.

Mateta also said he was a disadvantaged and vulnerable person by virtue of him being visually-impaired and, as such, his rights were in danger of being violated, especially due to the State’s inaction