THE Lovemore Madhuku-led opposition National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) on Wednesday petitioned the court seeking an order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to avail a copy of the voters’ roll before yesterday’s sitting of the Nomination Court.
BY CHARLES LAITON
However, by the time the Nomination Court sat in the morning, the matter had not yet been set down for hearing.
In the application, Zec and its chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba were cited as respondents.
“Zec’s conduct in failing to avail copies of the voters’ roll contravenes section 21(4) of the Electoral Act, section 155(2) of the Constitution and section 67(3)(b) of the Constitution, which among others entitles the NCA to have all material and information necessary for the opposition political party to participate in elections,” NCA said in the application.
Through its lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the NCA said it intended to field candidates to contest the forthcoming 2018 general elections in all constituencies but could not go ahead without a copy of the voters’ roll to ensure the candidates were nominated by registered voters as required by the Electoral Act.
NCA further argued that it could only ascertain the status of its candidates and those nominating them from an inspection of the voters’ roll once the latter had been furnished to the opposition political party.
“Having access to the voters’ roll, enhances effective participation in the elections in that it ensures that our members are able to comply with the formalities spelt out for purposes of nomination of candidates,” NCA.
NCA added that it was “apprehensive that its members’ nomination papers could be rejected on the basis of invalid nominations and without the electronic voters’ roll, the opposition party and its candidates will be unable to verify, audit and authenticate those seeking to nominate its members before nomination court”.
The party further said, in terms of section 21(4) of the Electoral Act, it is entitled to have access to a copy of every voters’ roll to be used in the election, either in printed form or in electronic form.
NCA further contended that the majority of its candidates would have to travel long distances together with the registered voters who would have to nominate them and as such there was no way to confirm if indeed the voters, travelling with them for the purposes of nomination, would have their names appearing on the voters’ roll, given the fact that ZEC had not provided the final copies of the said voters’ roll.
The NCA further argued that there was no reasonable excuse for the electoral body to justify its failure to provide the voters’ roll since the voter registration exercise ended at the beginning of this month.