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Lawyer seeks to bar minister from Zec ‘interference’

A HARARE lawyer has approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) seeking an order to declare Section 192(6) of the Electoral Act constitutionally invalid, arguing the section gives the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister powers to interfere with the operations of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), which is supposed to operate independently.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Justice Alfred Mavedzenge, a constitutional lawyer, said his application was in line with Section 85(1) of the Constitution, which allows him to approach the court, in his own interest, with a view to seek protection of his constitutional rights.

“Second respondent (Zec) is an independent commission and the manner in which it discharges its functions must, therefore, be guided by the above cited Section 235(1)(a) and Section 235(3) of the Constitution,” he said.

“This is an application for an order to declare Section 192(6) of the Electoral Act constitutionally invalid to the extent that it gives the minister power to approve regulations or statutory instruments developed by Zec.”

In the application, Mavedzenge cited Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zec chairperson Rita Makarau and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.

“My right to a free and fair election is likely to be infringed on because Section 192(6) of the Electoral Act violates the Constitution by allowing first respondent (Justice minister) to control and interfere with the regulation-making functions of the second respondent (Makarau) and this undermines the ability of second respondent to prepare for me a free and fair election,” he said.

In his founding affidavit, Mavedzenge said he had a constitutional right to choose his government through a regular, free and fair election, a right he said is provided for by Section 67(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The lawyer further said the country was barely 14 months away from holding the next general elections, where he would be called to participate in choosing the next government, hence, his application seeking to safeguard Zec’s rights.

“However, the ability of second respondent (Zec) to prepare for elections in a manner that is independent is undermined by Section 192(6) of the Electoral Act,” Mavedzenge said.

The lawyer said Section 192(6) of the Electoral Act prescribes that Zec cannot promulgate any regulations and statutory instruments without the approval of the Justice minister.

“It is, therefore, clear that the power given to first respondent to approve regulations and statutory instruments made by second respondent is unconstitutional, and is not provided for anywhere in the Constitution,” he said.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.

Source :

newsday

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