By Daniel Nemukuyu
A Harare man has approached the High Court seeking to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to print ballot papers in Braille or the template ballot to ensure people who are visually impaired enjoy their right to a secret vote.
Mr Abraham Mateta, a registered voter who is visually impaired, wants ZEC to put in place administrative measures to enable people in his condition to vote by secret ballot in the coming 2018 harmonised election.
Alternatively, Mr Mateta proposed that ZEC must provide tactile voting devices to all the visually impaired people who wish to vote by secret ballot.
Mr Mateta argued that those who wish to be assisted in voting should select their own assistants and cast the vote without the involvement of a presiding officer or any other third party.
Harare lawyer Dr Innocent Maja of Maja & Associates filed the urgent chamber application on behalf of Mr Mateta.
In the application, ZEC, Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Attorney-General of Zimbabwe Advocate Prince Machaya were listed as respondents.
Mr Mateta stated in his founding affidavit that his rights were likely to be violated if the administrative measures were not put in place.
He also wants the minister and the AG to amend the electoral law to give effect to the right of the visually impaired to vote in secret.
The legislative amendments, according Mr Mateta, must be effected by December 31 2018.
Mr Mateta said the visually impaired must not be discriminated against during elections.
“I am advised that the above provisions require ZEC and the other respondents to this application to ensure that I have equal opportunities to exercise my right to vote in secret, regardless of my disabilities or other factors.
“My disability does not mean inability to vote by secret ballot,” he said.
Mr Mateta said the matter should be treated with urgency.
“This country is just about to hold its next general elections and yet first, second and third respondents have not put in place legislative and administrative measures to allow and enable me to vote in secret.
“There is, therefore, imminent violation to one of my basic constitutional rights,
“Where my rights are in danger from an imminent violation especially due to State inaction, it is only fair and just that this court urgently intervenes to protect me and those who are similarly disadvantaged,” he said.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing at the High Court.