Concourt reserves judgement in diaspora vote challenge

THE Constitutional Court on Wednesday 14 March 2018 reserved judgment after hearing arguments on an application filed by three Zimbabweans challenging some restrictive provisions of the Electoral Act, which prevent Zimbabwean citizens living outside the country from participating in the country’s electoral processes.

The Full Bench of the Constitutional Court led by Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza heard arguments from the applicants’ lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and from some lawyers representing the respondents.

In his arguments, Advocate Mpofu asked the Constitutional Court to grant an order sought by the three applicants led by human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba and two other applicants to compel the respondents, who include the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) among other respondents, to facilitate the amendment of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) and put appropriate measures so as to enable Zimbabweans living and working abroad to participate in the country’s electoral processes.

Advocate Mpofu argued that the residents’ requirements imposed under the Electoral Act are unconstitutional and that the new Constitution, which provides for political rights allows for every citizen of Zimbabwe to participate in political processes, wherever they are.

The applicants want some restrictive provisions of the Electoral Act, which disenfranchises some Zimbabweans based on their physical positions struck off the country’s statutes.

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