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Zimbabwe outlaws prison voting in 2018 general elections

The Zimbabwe government will ban prisoners from voting in 2018 general elections, arguing it is not provided for in the law.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Virginia Mabhiza, was quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper on Friday as saying.

Mabhiza said that Zimbabwe’s Electoral Act was a law of general application that can lawfully limit the right to vote.

The permanent secretary was responding to a High Court application by three activists from the opposition MDC-T party, who had applied for prisoners to be allowed to vote.

The three activists are serving 20 years in jail for murdering a police officer.

Mabhiza said the only remedy for the trio was to engage parliament to change the law.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) also supported Mabhiza’s view, pointing out that the electoral body cannot go beyond the bounds of what is prescribed in terms of the law.

“The issue that has been brought before this court by the applicants may be one that requires a legislative solution and not a judicial one,’’read part of ZEC Chairperson, Rita Makarau’s affidavit.

The government has also barred Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to vote from outside the country, arguing it was not provided for in the law.

The position has been criticised by opposition political parties as an infringement to Zimbabweans’ constitutional right to vote.

Zimbabweans go to polls mid next year to choose the country’s president, members of parliament and local government councilors.

President Robert Mugabe, 93, will seek re-election for a second and final term after he was endorsed by his ruling ZANU-PF party as its presidential candidate.

The veteran leader has since begun campaign rallies around the country as he seeks to drum up support for himself and the party.


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