NCA Demands Voters’ Roll, Wary Of Prejudice Ahead Of Nomination Court Sitting
ON 13 June 2018, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed an urgent chamber application in the High Court seeking an order compelling the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to furnish the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) with every copy of the voters’ roll before Nomination Court proceedings commence on Thursday 14 June 2018.
In the urgent chamber application, the NCA, represented by Roselyn Hanzi, Jeremiah Bamu, Noble Chinhanu and Idirashe Chikomba of ZLHR, said it intends to field some candidates to contest the 2018 general elections in all constituencies and for these candidates to be nominated, they need to be nominated by some registered voters as required by the Electoral Act.
The NCA, which listed ZEC and the elections management body’s Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba as respondents, argued that it can only ascertain the status of its candidates and those nominating them from an inspection of the voters’ roll once it is furnished to the opposition political party.
Having access to the voters’ roll, the NCA argued enhances its effective participation in the elections in that it ensures that its members are able to comply with the formalities spelt out for purposes of the nomination of candidates.
The NCA said it is apprehensive that its members’ nomination papers could be rejected on the basis of invalid nominations and without the electronic voters’ roll, the opposition party and its candidates will be unable to verify, audit and authenticate those seeking to nominate its members before nomination court.
The NCA, which contended that it is entitled in terms of section 21(4) of the Electoral Act to have access to a copy of every voters’ roll to be used in the election, either in printed form or in electronic form, said it will suffer undue prejudice if it is not able to register its candidates at the Nomination Court as it will not be able to participate in the forthcoming elections scheduled for Monday 30 July 2018.
The opposition party contended that the majority of its candidates will have to travel long distances together with the registered voters who will have to nominate them and there is no way to confirm if indeed the voters that the opposition political party candidates will travel with for the purpose of nomination will have names that indeed appear on the voters’ roll, given the fact that ZEC has not provided the final copies of the voters’ roll.
The NCA argued that there is no reasonable excuse for ZEC to justify its failure to provide the voters’ roll since voter registration exercise ended on 01 June 2018.
According to the NCA, ZEC’s conduct in failing to avail copies of the voters’ roll contravenes section 21(4) of the Electoral Act, section 155(2) of the Constitution and section 67(3)(b) of the Constitution, which among others entitles the NCA to have all material and information necessary for the opposition political party to participate in elections.