Journalists petition parliament for postal voting, say work essential

BULAWAYO – Two journalists have petitioned parliament to amend the Electoral Act to include media workers among groups that qualify for postal voting ahead of general elections next year.

Postal voting in Zimbabwe is reserved for security services or other specially designated groups of people such as diplomats in embassies abroad.

The two journalists Mandla Tshuma and Lulu Brenda Harris, both based in Bulawayo, have written to the Speaker of Parliament to steer amendments to section 73 of the Electoral Act.

The two are arguing that due to the nature of their work, journalists and support staff would be deployed away from their polling stations, stripping them of their right to vote.

Tshuma and Harris say journalists play a pivotal role covering important national events, and point to exemptions on travel restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown as proof that the government recognises they are essential workers.

“Sadly… the country’s laws only allow postal voting for members of the security services and other government employees (including their spouses) while turning a blind eye to media practitioners who during polls are deployed to cover elections outside their constituencies,” they said in their petition.

Tshuma and Harris said the discriminatory nature of the law has resulted in journalists failing to exercise their democratic right to vote in the previous elections.

The petition was received by parliament on Wednesday, July 20, and Mudenda said it had been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

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