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Aliens can vote, rules High Court

By Daniel Nemukuyu

All people born in Zimbabwe and are holders of identification cards endorsed “Alien” have a right to be registered to vote in general elections, provided they have proof that one of their parents was born in Southern Africa, the High Court has ruled.

High Court of Zimbabwe
High Court of Zimbabwe

Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa yesterday issued an extempore judgment in a case in which a Harare woman, Ms Sarah Kachingwe, and two political parties were fighting for the rights of people generally referred to as “aliens”.

Ms Kachingwe (58) of Epworth jointly filed the urgent chamber application with MDC-T and the other MDC party led by Professor Welshman Ncube, seeking an order compelling the so-called “aliens” to be registered as prospective voters ahead of the 2018 general elections.

Some had been turned away when they tried to register with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration exercise. After hearing arguments from the parties involved, Justice Munangati-Manongwa allowed them to participate in elections on specific terms and conditions.

“It is hereby declared that: 1. Any person born in Zimbabwe who is of or over eighteen (18) years with an identification card endorsed “Alien” and a birth certificate showing that such person was born in Zimbabwe, and at least one of the parents of such person was born in Zimbabwe or from the SADC region, with proof that he or she was ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe on the relevant publication date in 2013, is entitled to be registered by the first respondent to vote without any impediment or additional requirement other than requirements relating to all people,” she said.

“2. The second respondent shall not charge any such person described in paragraph 1 above to replace identification particulars endorsed “Alien” during the period during which the Biometric Voter Registration exercise is taking place as per the timelines set out by the first respondent.

“3. The third applicant (Ms Kachingwe) together with any class of persons in similar predicament be and are hereby entitled to be forthwith registered as voters by the first respondent in the Biometric Voter Registration exercise upon production of the identification card endorsed “Alien”, coupled with a birth certificate showing that they were born in Zimbabwe to parents from the SADC region or one of whom is a Zimbabwean and proof of residence.” Justice Munangati-Manongwa said the issue was of importance and she will soon deliver a detailed judgment.

“The right to vote is one of the fundamental freedoms a person can enjoy in their lifetime and can only be enjoyed when one is registered as a voter. The importance, therefore, of this issue requires a full judgment. Today, I am only going to give an order with full reasons to follow. It is a very important case and I should be able to justify whatever decision I make,” she said.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), through Harare lawyer Mr Denford Halimani, represented Ms Kachingwe and the two political parties in the court application.

Ms Kachingwe is a Zimbabwean citizen by birth and her identification card is endorsed “Alien” because her deceased father hailed from Malawi. Ms Kachingwe’s mother is a Zimbabwean by birth, but she was turned away when she tried to register as a prospective voter during the ongoing voter registration exercise.

She told the court that she was referred to the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office for “regularisation” of her identification card. The Herald

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