By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
21 May 2014
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is breaking the law under the new constitution by not releasing the voters roll for inspection by the public, a constitutional lawyer said on Wednesday.
On Monday Justice Alfred Mavedzenge filed a High Court application seeking to compel ZEC to make the voters’ roll public. In February the civil rights campaigner lodged a formal demand for an electronic voters roll with the ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau, arguing that the register, under the country’s laws, is a public document and not a preserve for a select few.
By law, ZEC should have responded to his demands no later than 30 days after he lodged his application, but he has not heard anything from the electoral body in 90 days, prompting him to take his fight to the High court.
Mavedzenge told SW Radio Africa’s Hidden Story that Zimbabwe is an electoral democracy, which means the final voters’ list must be made accessible to the public and to all political parties.
ZEC has kept the roll under wraps, claiming that it could not retrieve it from its system as its machines have broken down. The country went to elections last year without the roll, which political parties and the electorate say was full of anomalies fuelling speculation the chaotic system was used to manipulate victory for President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party.
Mavedzenge reiterated that under the new constitution, voter registration is an ongoing exercise, so if ZEC doesn’t have last year’s voters roll, they may as well provide the latest one compiled from July last year.
‘Our voters roll has been inaccessible, others allege it is non-existent, but we don’t know. This application is meant to use the constitution and the laws of the land to correct that and ensure the voters roll is accessible to all members of the public,’ he said.
Mavedzenge explained that he’s been inspired so far by what is happening in sister countries like South Africa and Malawi, where the voters roll was made available weeks before their polls.