High Court to hear prisoner voting ban challenge

HARARE - High Court Judge Justice Clement Phiri will on Wednesday hear a legal challenge to Zimbabwe’s blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote.

The judgment expected in the Harare High Court has been brought by convicted “murderers”, Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama, who claim a ban on them voting in the July 30 presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, violates their fundamental rights under the Constitution.

The two MDC officials are currently serving prison terms of 20 years each at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after they were convicted last year of murdering a police officer.

They want the High Court to issue an order compelling then Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) former chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and Zec as the elections management body to register them on the national voters’ roll and facilitate their voting on election day.

Yvonne Musarurwa, who was also a prisoner until she was released under an amnesty early this year, is the third applicant.

Their application has only been set down for hearing this month although they filed their petition in June 2017, more than a year ago.

In their application, Madzokere, Maengahama and Musarurwa argued that since the period that they have been in prison detention, Zec had neither carried out any voter education, including voter registration nor enabled prisoners to cast their vote during the several by-elections which were held in the country to elect legislators.

The prisoners, who are represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, argued that they were asserting their constitutional rights particularly the right to vote in elections and referendums as enshrined in Section 67 (3) (a) of the Constitution.

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