via ERC director’s ruling set for Friday | The Herald October 29, 2013
A HARARE magistrate is this Friday expected to rule on an application by Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini seeking to refer to the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe his case to determine the constitutionality of certain provisions of the country’s electoral laws.
Chimhini argues that certain provisions of the Electoral Act, which criminalises freedom of expression infringes upon the organisation and its workers’ constitutional rights.
Magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe deferred the matter for ruling after Chimhini through his lawyer, Mr Trust Maanda requested to have the case referred to the highest court in the land. In this case, he sought stay of proceedings pending the determination of the matter by the Constitutional Court.
Chimhini was arrested together with Farai Saungweme, Wadzanai Previous Nyakudya and Moses Chikora for allegedly conducting voter education without the approval of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
They are being charged under section 40 of the Electoral Act. They allegedly conducted voter education ahead of the July 31 harmonised elections, arguing that ZEC had no capacity to conduct voter education alone and other players must be allowed to assist.
In a related case, the trial of Abel Chikomo, the executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum facing charges of allegedly operating an unregistered organisation was postponed to tomorrow.
Mr Mahwe deferred the matter citing a heavy schedule on his back. Charges against Chikomo arose when he allegedly conducted some activities without being registered with the Social Welfare Department under the Private Voluntary Organisations Act.
The charge, which Chikomo denies, came after the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, a non-governmental umbrella organisation conducted a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield suburb.
The State says this was illegal since the organisation was not registered as a PVO. The State alleges that Chikomo unlawfully instructed two of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s workers to commence or carry out a survey in Harare’s Highfield suburb with the intention to obtain people’s recommendations on the preferred transitional justice mechanism for Zimbabwe, without his organization registering with the Social Welfare Department under the PVO Act.