Diaspora vote ban challenge hearing set

HARARE - The Constitutional Court is today expected to hear the legal challenge to government's decision to bar expatriate Zimbabweans from voting from their foreign bases in the forthcoming key 2018 vote.

The matter has been postponed twice before on January 18 and February 14, as the judges in the apex court ordered the applicants to have the record paginated in terms of the court rules.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba has given the green light to three Zimbabweans living outside the country to file the application on the right to vote.

At the last scheduled sitting, the Con-Court deferred the hearing because the court record was not bound and the papers not paginated.

“The decision of the court is to postpone this matter and allow the applicants to attend to the record. This matter will be postponed to March 14, with no order as to costs,” Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, leading the Con-Court bench, said.

The Con-Court will hear that judicial review application lodged over whether government has the power to bar Zimbabweans not resident in the country from voting in the 2018 presidential, parliamentary and municipal polls.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) acting chair Emmanuel Magade, Zec, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Attorney General Prince Machaya are cited as respondents.

According to the application filed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), acting on the instructions of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, the applicants argued that the country’s Constitution, which came into force in 2013, guarantees the right to vote for all citizens.

Human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, who is in self-imposed exile in South Africa, Sibonile Mfumisi, also resident in South Africa, and Darlington Nyambiya, who is living and working in the United Kingdom, are the applicants.

The applicants argued that Section 67 (3) of the Constitution states that: “Every Zimbabwean citizen who is of or over 18 years of age has the right to vote in all elections and referendums to which this Constitution or any other law applies, and to do so in secret.”

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