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Con Court dismisses diaspora vote

by Staff Reporter
29 Jun 2013 at 03:38hrs | Views
DREAMS by Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote through the postal ballot system in this year's harmonised election were shattered yesterday after the Constitutional Court dismissed an application by a bus driver who is based in South Africa.

Mr Tavengwa Bukaibenyu lost his bid to vote the same way diplomats do in a test case which was expected to grant Zimbabweans in the Diaspora an opportunity to participate in elections while in foreign land.

He sought to have certain sections of the Electoral Act struck out from the statute books for violating the people's freedom to vote.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku threw out the application saying reasons for the decision would be delivered later.

"The application is dismissed and there will be no order as to costs. Reasons for judgment will follow in due course," ruled the court.

Mr Bukaibenyu, who is a registered voter in Mabvuku, Harare, mounted the application seeking permission to vote while based in South Africa.

In the application, ministers of Justice and Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, the Registrar-General and the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were cited as respondents in the application.

Mr Bukaibenyu submitted that although he worked in South Africa, Zimbabwe was his permanent home and he was entitled to his right to vote.

He sought to declare Section 23(3) and Section 71 of the Electoral Act unconstitutional.

Section 23(3), according to Mr Bukaibenyu, provides that a person registered on a constituency voters' roll is not entitled to have his name retained on such roll if he has ceased to reside in the constituency for a period exceeding 12 months.

Section 71, he said, which deals with postal voting only allows diplomats and other Government officials working outside the country to vote through postal ballot while the general Zimbabweans in Diaspora are not given such an opportunity.

This, Mr Bukaibenyu argued, was discriminatory and the two sections of the Act had to be taken off the statutes.

Government opposed the application on the basis that postal ballot voting was expensive and that the country had no resources to offer the facility to everyone.

Minister Patrick Chinamasa, in his opposing papers argued that the idea was not practical considering that Zimbabweans were dotted around the world and some even lived in countries where Zimbabwe does not have embassies.

He described it as an unfeasible and impossible exercise.

Minister Chinamasa argued that the exercise would be unfair to Zanu-PF because its agents would not be allowed to visit countries that imposed illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe.

Source - Chronicle