10 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Rural Teachers Fret Over Vote Freeze Out, Confront ZEC

Zimbabwe's rural teachers have written to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) demanding that the poll management authority should come clean on what it had in store for those who would be deployed outside areas they were registered to vote.

School teachers are often used as part of the country's polling officers during elections.

Fears abound "tens of thousands" of them could fail to cast their ballots if they were deployed far from their constituencies to conduct the country's ward-based polling.

Through their member group, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), the educators said they have instructed the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to write to ZEC seeking answers to their concerns.

According to the group, ZLHR's Denford Halimani has since written to ZEC chairperson Priscilla Chigumba demanding a response.

"ZEC was given an ultimatum to respond by day end Friday 06-07-18; failure would prompt legal counsel to escalate the issue by filing an urgent High Court application.

"No correspondence was received from ZEC and ARTUZ has since instructed Mr Halimani to file an urgent High Court application to seek relief for the affected teachers," read the statement.

Last week, the group petitioned ZEC to facilitate the voting of teachers who are going to be displaced from their polling stations as they attend to ZEC business.

"If ZEC doesn't chip in to facilitate the voting of teachers, tens of thousands of these citizens would have been denied their right to vote in a clear violation of Chapter 4, Part 2 of the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of Zimbabwe... "

The vocal teachers group is adamant each one of its members must be allowed to exercise their "political rights in terms of Section 67 (3) (a) which guarantees that every Zimbabwean citizen who is of or over eighteen years of age has the right to vote in all elections and referendums to which the Constitution or any other law applies, and do so in secret."

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