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MDC seeks ban on military poll involvement

Vincent Kahiya

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has filed an urgent High Court application seeking a ban on the use of military, police and intelligence details in the running of elections

as members of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC).

In documents filed in court yesterday, the MDC, through its director of elections Remus Makuwaza, argued that the appointment of police, army and intelligence details to the ESC was illegal according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Electoral Act.

The MDC is being represented in the case by Bryant Elliot of Gill Godlonton & Gerrans.

The application cites as first, second and third respondents the ESC, chief elections officer Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa.

“The secondment of members of the Zimbabwe National Army, including the second respondent, the police force and the Central Intelligence Organisation to the staff of the first respondent (the ESC) is illegal and has not force or effect,” Makuwaza said in his affidavit.

“The second respondent (Nyikayaramba) is a brigadier in the Zimbabwe National Army which is a very high ranking member of the army. At the same time he purports to be the chief elections officer of the first respondent (the ESC).”

The application comes just a week before the holding of two by-elections in Makonde and Harare Central and local government elections on August 30 and 31.

Makuwaza said the military, the police and intelligence agents were not civil servants and as such should not be part of the ESC staff. Section 11 (1) of the Electoral Act stipulates that personnel to be assigned to the ESC should be civil servants. He said the definition of a civil servant as set out in Section 113 of the Constitution disqualified the army, the police and the CIO from staffing the ESC.

Makuwaza said members of the uniformed forces and the intelligence were biased towards the ruling party as they worked under instruction.

“These people are taught to obey orders without question,” said Makuwaza. “In a democracy such people should not be involved in the process of elections.”

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