via Lawyer files High Court application to force release of voters’ roll | The Zimbabwean 19.05.14 by Tawanda Majoni
A private citizen and constitutional lawyer, Justice Alfred Mavedzenge, on Monday filed a High Court application seeking to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to make the voters’ roll public.
The roll has been kept under wraps, with ZEC claiming that it could not retrieve it from its system as its machines have broken down.
Zimbabwe went to elections last year without the roll, which political parties and the electorate say is full of anomalies and must be overhauled to ensure free and fair polls.
Mavedzenge cited the Chairperson of ZEC as the first respondent, while the Registrar General of Voters and the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs are the second and third respondents, respectively.
ZEC has 10 days within which to file an opposing affidavit, if they are averse to Mavedzenge’s application, failure of which a default judgement would be granted.
The High Court application follows the lawyer’s letter to ZEC on February 6 2014 in which he requested the commission to upload the voters’ roll to a platform he could access but, three months down the line, that had not been done.
ZEC was supposed to respond within 30 days, in accordance with section 8(1) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Chapter 10:27).
The applicant wants ZEC to “upload the national voters’ roll onto a platform” where he and other members of the public can access it.
“This is an application for an order to compel the 1st Respondent to provide the Applicant with an electronic copy of the national voters’ roll and to upload and update the voters’ roll onto an accessible online platform,” Mavedzenge wrote in his High Court application.
Sections 62(1) of the new constitution adopted last year after a referendum and 5(1) of AIPPA give Zimbabwean citizens the right of access to information held by national bodies where such information is in the interests of public accountability.
Mavedzenge told The Zimbabwean after filing his application: “We are an electoral democracy and integrity of electoral processes must be improved through accountability, which ZEC has demonstrated to lack.”
He added: “Public information is kept by the State as a good steward but it ultimately belongs to the people. The voters’ roll is, by law, a public document and not publicizing it creates unnecessary mystery around it.”