23 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Voters' Roll Row Spills Into Supreme Court

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has approached the Supreme Court challenging a High Court decision forcing it to provide independent electoral watchdog, the Electoral Resource Centre (ERC), with a copy of the provisional voters' roll.

Justice Tawanda Chitapi ordered ZEC to furnish ERC with the voters' roll used during an inspection exercise conducted in the period May 19-29, within five days of the court order.

ZEC, however, is contesting the decision which it says violates with its independence.

In its notice of appeal filed at the Supreme Court on Thursday, the electoral body cited the trustees of ERC Trust as respondents.

ZEC wants an order setting aside the lower court's decision on the grounds that it erred at law and in fact by ordering that the appellant (ZEC) furnishes the ERC with the provisional voters' roll when the law does not provide for a provisional voters' roll.

"The court a quo (lower court) erred at law by ordering that the appellant furnish the respondent with the provisional voters' roll in printed or electronic format as the respondent may request upon payment of the fee prescribed under s21 (3) of the Electoral Act, [Cap 2:13] where s21 (3) of the Electoral Act, [Cap 2:13], does not relate to a provisional voters' roll," read the notice of appeal.

"By ordering that the appellant provides the respondents with a provisional voters' roll, the court a quo erred at law in that it sanctioned an undue infringement of the appellant's constitutionally guaranteed independence."

Justice Chitapi ordered ZEC to provide the electoral watchdog with a copy of the provisional voters' roll following a challenge by the ERC which was heard on an urgent basis on May 29, 2018.

The judge also ruled that ZEC should furnish ERC with the provisional voters' roll in printed or electronic form as the latter may request, provided they paid the prescribed fee in terms of the Electoral Act.

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