ZEC Bars Clergyman, Human Rights Lawyers, HRDs from Observing Elections

ZEC Bars Clergyman, Human Rights Lawyers, HRDs from Observing Elections

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THE ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (ZEC) has arbitrarily barred several Zimbabweans from being accredited as observers for the 2023 harmonised elections citing some undisclosed security reasons in turning down their applications to observe the polls.

Close to 10 people, who had submitted applications to ZEC to observe the general elections scheduled for Wednesday 23 August 2023, had their applications rejected by ZEC, which in some cases cited undisclosed “security reasons” for arriving at such an arbitrary decision.

Among those barred from observing the general elections are Bishop Ancelimo Magaya, a prominent clergyman, human rights lawyers Musa Kika and Arnold Tsunga and pro-democracy campaigners, Tapiwanashe Chiriga, Rashid Mahiya, Blessing Vava, Rachel Kadau and Dephin Magaya.

While Magaya, Kika, Tsunga, Chiriga, Mahiya, Vava, Kadau, Magaya were awaiting to be accredited by ZEC to observe elections, their representatives who made enquiries with the elections management body, were told that their applications had been rejected with no reasons being given.

The aggrieved clergyman, human rights lawyers and pro-democracy campaigners then engaged lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who wrote letters to ZEC protesting that the elections management body’s decision and conduct was unlawful and arbitrary.

In the letters, ZLHR lawyers Tinashe Chinopfukutwa, Kelvin Kabaya and Chris Mhike stated that in terms of section 68(1) of the Constitution, their clients have a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, substantially and procedurally fair.

Chinopfukutwa, Kabaya and Mhike protested that ZEC’s conduct and arbitrary decision in declining their clients’ application for accreditation as election observers is procedurally unfair and a violation of their right to administrative justice as provided in terms of section 68 of the Constitution.

The clergyman, human rights lawyers and pro-democracy campaigners, Chinopfukutwa, Kabaya and Mhike argued, have a right to be furnished with written reasons explaining ZEC’s refusal of their applications for accreditation to observe the elections.

Furthermore, Chinopfukutwa, Kabaya and Mhike said ZEC had an obligation to allow their clients to make representations before an adverse decision is taken against them and the failure by the elections management body to afford them the right to be heard makes the decision declining their applications for accreditation as election observers manifestly unfair and unlawful.

The human rights lawyers asked ZEC to furnish them with written reasons outlining why their clients’ applications were denied.

Given that the election is imminent, Chinopfukutwa, Kabaya and Mhike told ZEC that failure to furnish them with the requested information would result in them approaching the High Court on an urgent basis to challenge the elections management body’s arbitrary decision and conduct.

ENDS

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
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