Con-Court defers ruling on Diaspora vote

HARARE - A ruling on an application by a South Africa-based man who had approached the Constitutional Court demanding that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora vote in the forthcoming poll has been indefinitely shelved.

The application by Tavengwa Bukaibenyu, a professional driver, was expected to be heard yesterday before a panel of nine judges, but the Court failed to proceed. The Court said it was waiting for electoral law reforms.

Bukaibenyu, who cited Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Registrar-General of Voters Tobaiwa Mudede as respondents, argues that he was forced to live in South Africa because of economic hardships but intends to vote in the forthcoming poll.

Bukaibenyu is represented by David Ochieng, under instructions from Coghlan, Welsh and Guest law firm.

“It’s a matter of common knowledge that there are some amendments to the Electoral Act that are under discussion,” said Ochieng, soon after meeting a panel of nine judges in chambers.

“The risk is that if this case is proceeded with, on the basis of the old law, there could appear amendments that make it academic, so the idea is to wait until the future of the Law is certain and argue it on that basis.”

He said elections cannot be held before the determination of the case.

Bukaibenyu, a registered voter in Mabvuku Constituency, wants the Constitutional Court to declare Sections 23(3) and 71 of the Electoral Act barring the Diaspora vote unlawful.

“It is undoubtedly within the ability of the State to organise a postal ballot for all registered voters who for one reason or another cannot attend or do not wish to attend a polling station on the day set aside for voting,” reads Bukaibenyu’s court papers.

Chinamasa and Mudede are opposing the application.

Chinamasa argues postal voting would prejudice his Zanu PF party.

“The granting of visas at the discretion of countries that have imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe means that a number of Western countries are only accessible to members of the MDC formations,” Chinamasa argues in his court papers.

“That fact militates against a conducive level playing field obtaining in those countries.” - Tendai Kamhungira

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