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3 Zimbabwe Prisoners Take Govt, ZEC to Court Over Voting Rights

Zimbabwe Mutedza FILE: Zimbabwean police stand guard during the trial of 29 Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, activists facing charges of killing a policeman at site of the alleged murder scene in Harare, Zimbabwe Tuesday, June, 26, 2012. The activists who are locked up in a remand prison, were taken to the scene of the alleged crime in leg irons under heavy police and prison service guards.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Three Zimbabwean prisoners have petitioned the High Court seeking an order compelling authorities to allow them to cast votes in next year’s general election.

According to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the three prisoners Yvonne Musarurwa, Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama, who are currently serving prison terms of 20 years each at the male and female sections at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after they were convicted last year for murdering a policeman, want the High Court to issue an order compelling Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Justice Rita Makarau and ZEC as the elections management body to register them on the national voters roll and facilitate their voting on election day.

In their application, Musarurwa, Madzokere and Maengahama argued that since the period that they have been in prison detention, ZEC had neither carried out any voter education, including voter registration nor enabled prisoners to cast their vote during the several by-elections which were held in the country to elect legislators.

The prisoners, who are represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, that consider themselves as political prisoners argued that they were asserting their constitutional rights particularly the right to vote in elections and referendums as enshrined in Section 67 (3) (a) of the Constitution.

Musarurwa, Madzokere and Maengahama argued that it is common cause that Zimbabwe is due for general elections in 2018 and they are entitled to exercise their political rights regardless of their status as detainees.

The prisoners want ZEC to make the necessary arrangements to ensure that prisoners are registered as voters on appropriate voters’ rolls and to ensure that they vote on any election relating to them.

The three were jailed for killing Inspector Petros Mutedza in Glenview following public protests staged by supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

They pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.

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