Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Rita Makarau says prisoners and those hospitalised during national elections have a right to vote and measures must be put in place to afford them their constitutional right in the 2018 general election.
In a lecture at the Zimbabwe Defence College in Harare last Thursday, the judge said the Electoral Act does not provide for an administrative framework to ensure prisoners and patients admitted in hospitals vote.
Justice Makarau said ZEC was prioritising the realignment of the Electoral Act to ensure it recognises minority groups that have all along been denied their right to vote.
“The Act does not give administrative framework for giving effect to the right to vote by persons who will not be in their wards on polling day.
“Prisoners must also vote in terms of the Constitution as well as hospitalised patients,” she said.
Justice Makarau said journalists, who are deployed throughout the country to cover elections, must also be allowed to cast their ballots.
“There are many people, who have been denied access to vote by circumstances beyond their control.
“For example, journalists may be deployed somewhere far away from their wards during the election period and such people, under the current framework, will not vote,” said Justice Makarau.
She said the realignment of the Act to the Constitution was the best solution.
“At the moment, our priority as ZEC is to realign the Act to Constitution…”
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists in 2013 filed a constitutional challenge just before the harmonised elections seeking an order compelling ZEC to allow journalists to be treated the same way with the uniformed forces and ZEC officials who are entitled to special voting.