High Court rejects CCC’s urgent request for updated voters’ roll

The High Court has dismissed an urgent appeal by the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC)’s seeking access to an updated voters’ roll from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

This was after CCC secretary for elections, Ian Makone had filed an urgent High Court application on August 11, 2023 seeking an order to compel ZEC to provide an up-to-date copy of the voters’ roll and final list of polling stations for the 23 August 2023 general elections.

In the application, ZEC was cited as the first respondent while ZEC Chairperson and Chief Elections Officer were cited as the second and third respondent.

However, High Court Judge, Justice Never Katiyo, dismissed the case as “not urgent” in a judgement issued on Monday.

“Whereupon after reading documents filed on record, it is ordered that the matter is not urgent,” read the ruling by the judge.

This means that CCC will go into the election unaware of the contents of the voters’ roll that will be used for the eagerly- anticipated August 23 elections.

The dismissal of CCC’s court application also comes after the opposition, through its lawyers  Mtetwa, Nyambirai, Mbuyisa and Coltart assisted by Chakanyuka, Ndlovu, and Sititombe wrote an urgent letter of demand to the ZEC Chief elections Officer on August 10, 2023, asking for provision updated voters roll complaint with Section 21 of the Electoral Act and a complete polling station list, noting that previous requests had been ignored. 

“Our clients were provided by ZEC with an electronic copy of the voters’ roll on July 10, 2023, on July 14, 2023, and again on August 2, 2023, our clients wrote to you raising concerns about the voters’ roll provided to them. You did not respond to their letters. 

“On August 2 2023 ZEC published a list of ‘preliminary’ polling stations implying that they were still subject to change. On August 8 2023 our clients wrote to you raisin concerts about the ‘preliminary’ list of polling stations which has also not yet been responded to.

“On August 8, 2023, ZEC published a list of polling stations which we presume is now the final lists and that they are the polling stations clearly demonstrating that the voters roll that was provided to our clients is not the same voters roll that will be used in the election. Therefore the voters’ roll provided to our clients is not compliant with the peremptory provisions of Section 21 of the Electoral Act,” read the letter.   

Concerns about the release of the voters’ roll is a recurring point of dispute in succeeding Zimbabwean elections, which is worsened by claims that the ruling Zanu PF tampers with the voter list to rig the election.

Meanwhile, political scientist, Professor Jonathan Moyo, said the voters roll that was used for any election is polling station based, not a national, constituency or ward voters roll, therefore those asking for such were “either ignorant, misplaced, misguided, political posturing or downright mischievous.”

Prof Moyo explained that in terms of the Electoral Act, none of these voters’ rolls are used for the purposes of polling or voting in any election. 

“Asking for voters rolls that are not used in any election is as futile as asking for and making noise about a road that you know or you ought to know that it will most definitely not take you to the destination where you need to go. The only voters’ roll that is “used for the purposes of polling in any election” in Zimbabwe is the polling station voters roll, which is provided under section 22A of the Electoral Act,” he said.

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