High Court defers hearing on aliens vote challenge

HARARE - The High Court postponed a hearing to tomorrow an application seeking an order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to register the so-called “aliens” as prospective voters for the 2018 general elections during the on-going biometric voter registration exercise after the electoral body asked for more time to prepare its stance, lawyers involved in the case said.

High Court Judge Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa on Friday postponed to Wednesday the hearing of the urgent chamber application.

The hearing will address a broad legal challenge filed by a Harare resident 57-year-old Sarah Kachingwe, who resides in Epworth and two factions of the MDC opposition political parties, which largely seeks an order allowing some individuals classified as “aliens” to register to vote in the 2018 general elections without any impediment or additional requirement other than requirements relating to all people.

In petitioning the High Court, Kachingwe —who is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth and whose identification card is endorsed “alien” because her deceased father Chemunyaya Kachingwe hailed from Malawi while her mother Catherine Jaure is a Zimbabwean by birth — argued that she was not allowed by Zec officials to register as a prospective voter because she had an identification card endorsed “alien”.

The Zec officials who were conducting the biometric voter registration exercise at Makomo in Epworth referred her to the Registrar General (RG)s Office for “regularisation” of her identification card.

Kachingwe said officials from the RG’s Office demanded that she pays a staggering $5 000 to have her identification card regularised, an amount which she could not afford to pay as she is not gainfully employed.

Kachingwe, together with the two opposition political parties, are represented by Denford Halimani of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. They are arguing that Zec’s actions are illegal and her rights as a Zimbabwean citizen had been infringed. She wants the High Court to assert her fundamental rights as she is entitled to all rights, benefits and privileges of being a Zimbabwean.

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC and the smaller MDC led by Welshman Ncube also argued that a citizen who is able to produce an identification card showing district of origin, and a birth certificate confirming that such a citizen was born in Zimbabwe to parents or one whom was born in the country or from the Sadc region and can provide proof of residence should by operation of the law be freely allowed to register to vote as they would have sufficiently established their qualification to vote by virtue of proving that they were Zimbabwean by birth.

The two MDC political parties argued that any additional requirement upon the so-called aliens would be discriminatory in the sense that they would be subjected to a condition that other ordinary Zimbabweans are not being subjected to.

The opposition political parties charged that the present situation whereby people born in Zimbabwe to parents of foreign origin in Sadc are required to renounce their entitlement to foreign citizenship before being issued with a fresh identification card by the RG’s Office is unlawful as it is in contravention of Section 56 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination and promotes equality.

Justice Munangati-Manongwa will now preside over the hearing of the urgent chamber application tomorrow after postponing the matter to allow the Zec legal practitioners to further consult with theelections management body about consenting to the order sought.

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