Harare - The High Court has ordered the beleaguered Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to ensure civil servants, particularly teachers, serving as electoral and polling officers are given the opportunity to vote in next Monday’s general election.
High Court Justice Isaac Muzenda granted the order in favour of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), which a fortnight ago filed an urgent chamber application to compel ZEC to ensure teachers are not denied the right to cast their ballots.
This came amid allegations ZEC had devised a ploy to deny educators that right in fear that teachers and other civil servants disgruntled over the country's economic problems would vote against the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).
ZEC has been accused of bias in favour of the party.
Through an application to the High Court by its lawyer, Denford Halimani, of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, ARTUZ had expressed concern that its members’ fundamental rights were likely to be infringed by ZEC’s actions in deploying them to serve as polling officers in areas in which they were not actually registered to vote.
Justice Muzenda has ordered ZEC to give teachers and all other civil servants serving as electoral and polling officers or in any capacity a temporary break from conducting the elections management body’s duties on election day to enable them to vote and to provide transport to travel to and from the polling station, where they are supposed to vote.
Unlike in previous elections in which a person registered in a constituency could vote at any polling station within that constituency, this year’s general election will be conducted on the basis of polling station voting as stipulated under sections of the Electoral Act.