Election Resource Centre (ERC) trial postponed to next month

The trial of the Election Resource Centre (ERC) was today deferred to the 19th of March 2014. The ERC, represented by the Director, Tawanda Chimhini, and the co-accused Farai Saungweme, Moses Chikora and Wadzanai P Nyakudya this morning briefly appeared before Magistrate Mahwe, at Rotten Row Courts (Court 6).

The four are in court on allegations of Contravening Section 40 (c) (1) (g) of the Electoral Act. The section deals with conducting voter education without authority from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). The accused are being represented by Trust Maanda of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. The charges followed the arrest and subsequent detention of Farai Saungweme, Moses Chikora and Wadzanai P Nyakudya on the 11th of May 2013 in Borrowdale as they participated under the X1G Campaign. The trio spend three nights in Police custody.

The X1G Campaign was meant to raise awareness on the need for youth to meaningfully participate in electoral processes ahead of the July 31 harmonized elections. The state alleges that the accused conducted voter education without the approval of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The ERC represented by Chimhini and the three accused deny the charges. This is not the first time the trial has been deferred to another date owing to various reasons. On today's occasion the key state witness to the case Mr. Chidhakuza was not present.

Meanwhile the lawyer representing the ERC received the record of the court proceedings which shall be used in a Constitutional Court application challenging the constitutionality of Section 40 (c) (1) (g) of the Electoral Act which is being used to charge the accused.

The ERC argues that the section violates freedom of association of the accused as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

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