Harare North MP sues Zec after denial of electronic voters roll

HARARE – Harare North legislator Allan Norman Markham has taken the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to court seeking to compel the poll management authority to furnish him with an electronic copy of the national voters roll upon payment of the prescribed price of US$200 pegged for a copy.

In his application, filed Wednesday with his lawyers Wintertons Legal Practitioners, Markham says his many attempts to obtain a soft copy of the document from Zec have been frustrated on very turn through “delaying tactics” by the under fire authority prompting him to seek the courts’ intervention.

The opposition lawmaker says Zec has insisted on providing a hard copy of the voters roll which he says has been priced beyond the reach of many.

Markham further argues Zec is bound by the Electoral Act to furnish him or any other citizen with a copy of the voters roll in either hard or soft copy upon payment of the prescribed fee.

“It is important to note that the fee for the voters’ roil in the respective formats are different,” he says in his founding affidavit.

“The fee for the hard copy is US$200 plus printing cost of US$1 per page which results in the total cost of about US$187.000.

“This is many times more costly than the electronic copy of the voters roll, which is about US$200.00.”

Markham also argues that the “electronic form is portable and can be easily analysed with relative ease; a hard copy of the national roll would be cumbersome to hold (one hundred and eighty seven thousand pages) and practically impossible to analyse”.

“In addition, it takes the respondent 30 days to print a copy of the hard copy before an applicant who has complied with all the conditions set by the Respondent can have it.

“So even if one has the money which I must say is exorbitant and unaffordable for many people including myself, you would still have to wait for a minimum of thirty days (30) for Respondent to print it.

“The choice therefore is procure an electronic copy is both borne out of its being more affordable and easier to obtain and analyse.”

In the order sought, the legislator wants the High Court to declare “that the respondent shall be obliged to provide applicant with the voters roll in the form requested and accordingly the refusal and or failure by the respondent to furnish applicant with a copy of the national voters roll in electronic form as requested by applicant is unlawful”.

Markham also wants the court to declare “that the tender by the respondent of a printed version/hard copy of the voters roll is invalid to the extent that it is not in accordance with the request made to it by the applicant of an electronic copy/version of the voters roll”.

Zec has seven days to respond to the application.

The voters’ roll has been the hot button point of Zimbabwe’s disputed elections amid claims the Zanu PF led administration which oversees the running of Zec manipulates the document to tilt the vote in its favour.

In past polls, the roll has been found to be starched with names of dead people who have mysteriously cast their ballots during national elections while in other cases, a residential stand has been found to have been used by more than a thousand registered voters, putting to question the integrity of the country’s elections which have often been flagged as flawed by various independent bodies.

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