Veritas loses bid to conduct voter education

PARLIAMENTARY and civic rights watchdog, Veritas Zimbabwe, has lost its bid to conduct voter education this year after its application was dismissed on the basis of being “fatally and incurably defective”.

BY CHARLES LAITON

In his judgment delivered on Wednesday this week, High Court judge Justice Owen Tagu said he could not delve into the merits of the Veritas’ application since the civil rights watchdog had brought the matter before the court on a “wrong form”.

“In casu the form used by the applicant is, with greatest respect not Form 29B. There was, therefore, a substantial departure from the rules. The question now is can this substantial departure from the rules be condoned under Rule 4C?

Or can I condone it merely because this is an application of a constitutional matter, the answer is a definite NO,” Justice Tagu said.

“I will, therefore, uphold the preliminary points and decline to deal with the matter on the merits.

“In taking this decision I am aware of the concessions allegedly made by the second and third respondents (Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General (AG) Prince Machaya) at the beginning of the matter, but be that as it may since I found that the application under case HC 11749/17 is fatally and incurably defective, every proceeding and or concessions founded on it are also bad and incurably bad, one cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there.”

Justice Tagu further said as regards Veritas’s present application which sought to challenge sections 40C (1) (g), 40C (1) (h), 40C (2) and 40F of the Electoral Act, on the basis that the sections are ultra vires section 56, 61 and 67 of the Constitution, the application was again of no consequence as regards the July 30, 2018 general elections.

“In casu an election has already been called, so any decision this court may make to the provision of the Electoral Act has no effect to this election. The applicant has ample time to lodge its papers properly if it feels it has a good case otherwise the applications are dismissed,” the judge said, ordering Veritas to pay wasted costs on a legal practitioner and client scale.

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