Zim prisoners in long wait over voting fate

HIGH Court Judge Justice Clement Phiri on Wednesday 11 July 2018 reserved judgment after presiding over the hearing and determination of an application filed by some prisoners seeking an order compelling Zimbabwean authorities to allow them to cast votes in this month’s general elections.

Through the application, the prisoners Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama, wanted the
High Court to issue an order compelling Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi
Ziyambi, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba and ZEC as
the elections management body, to register them on the national voters roll and facilitate their voting on election day.

Madzokere and Maengahama are currently serving prison terms of 20 years each at Chikurubi
Maximum Security Prison after they were convicted in 2016 for murdering a policeman. Yvonne
Musarurwa, who was also a prisoner until she was released under an amnesty early this year, is the
third applicant.

But Justice Phiri reserved judgment after indicating that he would need more time to consider all the
legal authorities referred to by lawyers representing the applicants and those representing the
defendants before makes a decision “expeditiously”.

The prisoners’ application was only been set down for hearing this month although they filed their
petition in June 2017, more than one year ago.

In their application, Madzokere, Maengahama and Musarurwa, who were represented by Advocate
Tererai Mafukidze, who was instructed by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights,
argued that since the period that they have been in prison detention, ZEC had neither carried out any
voter education, including voter registration nor enabled prisoners to cast their vote during the several by-elections which were held in the country to elect legislators.

The prisoners argued that they were asserting their constitutional rights particularly the right to vote in elections and referendums as enshrined in Section 67 (3) (a) of the Constitution.
Musarurwa, Madzokere and Maengahama argued that it is common cause that Zimbabwe is due for
general elections in 2018 and they are entitled to exercise their political rights regardless of their status as detainees.

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