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High Court to rule on Veritas challenge

by Staff reporter
20 Jun 2018 at 06:49hrs | Views
The High Court is today expected to deliver judgment in the case in which Veritas Zimbabwe, a parliamentary watchdog, is suing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) over alleged voter education monopoly.

The watchdog argues that voters should be given appropriate and adequate information on balloting for ZEC to run a free, fair and credible election. Veritas filed two constitutional applications at the High Court last week seeking to open up voter education, arguing that it is restricted only to the commission.

Through its lawyer Mr Dougie Coltart of Mtetwa and Nyambirai, Veritas argued that both cases were premised on the constitutional issues affecting the Electoral Act and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)'s functions under the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

Mr Coltart confirmed to The Herald yesterday that Justice Charles Hungwe, who presided over the first case on Monday, would deliver his judgment today. "The first case was argued on Monday and judgement was reserved to tomorrow (today)," said Mr Coltart. He said the second case in which they were seeking the definition of transparency was deferred to today. In the first case, Veritas is offended by sections 40C (1) (g) and 40C (2) of the Electoral Act, which it seeks to strike down as unconstitutional.

The section requires only ZEC and political parties to conduct voter education, while civic organisations and even individuals cannot conduct any voter education programmes without first submitting them to processes supervised by ZEC. The law also prohibits the use of foreign donations for voter education, including donations from Zimbabweans living in the diaspora.

"Sections 40C (1) (g) and 40C (2) of the Electoral Act requiring prior approval of all voter education programmes and materials from ZEC, are so restrictive they violate citizens' constitutional rights to freely receive and impart information and ideas and their rights to equality and to make free and informed political choices," stated Veritas in its application.

Veritas cited ZEC, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Attorney-General as respondents in the case. ZEC has opposed Veritas' application on a range of procedures. In the other case, the parliamentary watchdog is seeking the court to rule on the definition of transparency and sets out 20 issues that ZEC has to fulfil for the forthcoming elections to be declared transparent.

Source - the herald

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