By Tichaona Sibanda
14 March 2013
High Court Judge Justice Samuel Kudya has dismissed the state case against ZimRights director Okay Machisa when he ruled that his placement on remand in January by a Harare magistrate is invalid.
The judge ordered that Machisa, who was facing charges for allegedly conducting illegal voter registration, be immediately removed from remand. Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga explained that the judge’s ruling meant Machisa is a free man and has no case to answer.
‘The case against him is dismissed,’ he said, amid urgent appeals from the Heads of Civil Society Coalitions to allow Machisa and ZimRights to observe the referendum on Saturday.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had on Wednesday said it will not back down on its ban preventing ZimRights from monitoring Saturday’s vote on a new constitution.
ZEC acting chair Joyce Kazembe said Machisa and ZimRights will not be cleared to observe the referendum, as they were facing charges related to alleged electoral offenses. This ban led to NGO’s accredited to observe the referendum threatening to boycott the vote, urging ZEC to reverse its decision.
Machisa said their lawyers will be approaching ZEC with the latest High court ruling, which he said would compel the electoral body to allow him to be accredited. The NGO’s will meet on Friday to decide on the course of action to take should ZEC refuse to accredit Machisa and other Zimrights officials.
Meanwhile the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has filed an urgent application with the Supreme Court to stop Saturday’s referendum from going ahead.
The case has been set for Friday afternoon at the Supreme Court. Harare lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu told SW Radio Africa that the ISO lodged their application on Wednesday. They have been campaigning for a No vote.
The group is led by University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Munyaradzi Gwisai. Bhamu said the ISO are arguing that they’ve not been afforded reasonable time to propagate their views to campaign for a No vote. The ISO last week released a statement containing 15 reasons why Zimbabweans should vote No.
Some of the reasons are that the draft was not written by the people but by the four leaders of the political parties in the unity government.
‘It’s not democratic! It retains the imperial executive president. The President appoints all cabinet ministers and most senior state, military and judicial officials, can unilaterally change laws, dissolve parliament or declare war,’ the statement said.