Court reasoning for Diaspora Vote denial still under wraps

The Constitutional Court is yet to provide any reasoning for its decision to dismiss an application that was seeking to allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora the right to vote, which analysts have said casts even more doubt on the credibility on the July polls.

The case was filed by South African based Zimbabwean citizen Tawengwa Bukaibenyu last year, in a bid to secure his right and the rights of other Zimbabweans to vote. His case challenged the barring of postal ballots for exiled Zimbabweans, which he said violated his right to choose his country’s government.

The then Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede opposed the application arguing that the process of allowing Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote was prohibitively costly and a burden to the country’s fiscus.

The case was then dismissed by the Constitutional Court just weeks before the general elections on July 31st, with no reasons being given. The decision effectively prevented millions of Zimbabweans, who now live in Diaspora communities around the world, a chance to cast their votes.

This court’s decision is at odds with a provisional order handed down in February 2013 by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, in a case filed Zimbabweans in the Diaspora also seeking their right to vote from outside the country. The African Commission ordered the Zimbabwe government to allow Zimbabweans living abroad to vote in the March constitutional referendum and the elections that followed, by making postal voting facilities available.

According to the African Commission’s rules of procedure, a provisional ruling is binding. But there has been no attempt by the Zim government to abide by or even acknowledge the order.

Den Moyo, the Chairman of the Diaspora Vote Campaign told SW Radio Africa that a dangerous precedent of non-compliance with binding rules is being set by African groups, over the Zimbabwe situation.

“We have a serious problem in African politics, when even court rulings are ignored. In the case of Zimbabwe, we know the African Union court voted in our favour and Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, and that was ignored by the Mugabe regime for obvious reasons. It sets a bad precedent that those rules and laws can be disregarded,” Moyo said.

Moyo also said that the government’s refusal to allow the Zimbabwean Diaspora to vote from the outside the country “is a blow to democracy.”

“If Zimbabwe is serious about being recognised in the international community as a country that respects democracy, then they should be serious about allowing all citizens an equal right to vote,” Moyo said.

He explained that there is already “no doubt” that the election was not credible, with the regional SADC bloc bending its own rules that govern democratic elections to cater for ZANU PF’s victory.

“I think SADC is being disingenuous in them proclaiming this election to be credible, when they know that their own conditions for free and fair elections have not been followed,” Moyo said. – SW Radio Africa

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