MP takes voters roll fight to Supreme Court
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HARARE North Member of Parliament, Allan Norman “Rusty” Markham has filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the High Court verdict supporting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(Zec)’s refusal to release the voters roll in electronic format ahead of this year’s polls.
Earlier this month, Justice Never Katiyo dismissed Markham’s application calling on Zec to release the electronic voters roll, arguing that his case lacked merit, and was prematurely before the courts.
But, in a notice of appeal filed at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator argued that the High Court grossly misdirected itself in ruling that the matter was prematurely before the courts.
“The court a quo erred in holding that the appellant (Markham) had alternative remedies to pursue in order to get the voters roll in electronic form when the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:15) provides for such remedies,” he said in the notice.
“The court a quo erred in failing to find that the respondent’s failure to provide a time period within which it was going to provide the appellant with the voters roll in electronic form amounted to a refusal to provide the voters roll in violation of section 21 (3) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:15,” the MP submitted.
“The court a quo misinterpreted section 21 (7) of the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:15] to be applicable, so as to allow the respondent to indefinitely withhold the provision to the Appellant, of the voters roll in electronic form.
“The court a quo grossly misdirected itself in considering the irrelevant evidence of the Team Pachedu tweets, as the tweets were generated after the respondent (Zec)’s refusal to provide the voters roll in electronic form.”
Team Pachedu is a group of data analysts who have been exposing alleged voters roll manipulation which includes voters being moved to different polling stations without their knowledge and voters being registered at Zanu PF-linked addresses.
“The court a quo grossly erred in holding that the provisions of sections 13 and 18 of the Cyber and Data Protection Act (Chapter 12:07) allowed the respondent to deny Appellant access to the voters roll in electronic form,” Markham argues.
The country’s laws stipulate that an electronic copy of the voters roll costs US$200, while a hard copy costs US$1 per page, which translates to US$186 000 for the hard copy, according to the Election Resource Centre.
Zec has refused to release the electronic voters roll saying it fears that it can be manipulated.
Zimbabwe expects to hold general elections in August although President Emmerson Mnangagwa is yet to officially procaim the date. _*NewsDay*_