SALC criticises Zim court for dismissing civil rights group application

2018-07-03 14:56
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The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has criticised the Zimbabwean High Court after it dismissed on a technicality a constitutional challenge brought by civil right group Veritas against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and two others.

Veritas had challenged the constitutionality of several sections of the southern African nation's Electoral Act over what it described as burdensome limitation on those allowed to conduct voter education in the country.

In a statement on Tuesday, SALC said that the dismissal of the case on a technicality was a "disappointment".

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, SALC's executive director, said the legal change by Veritas had emphasised that the Electoral Act limitations were violating freedom of expression and had created a virtual "state monopoly on speech and constitute unjustifiable prior restraint".

He added that the Electoral Act violated the "general public's rights to receive information and ideas, their right to equality, their right to free and fair elections and their right to make free and informed political choices".

According to NewsDay, High Court Justice Owen Tagu last month dismissed the civil rights group's applications after he said that he was unable to look into the case's merits since the civil rights watchdog had brought the matter before the court on a "wrong form".

Tagu further said that Veritas' other application to challenge several other sections of the Electoral Act was of no consequence with regards to the July 30, 2018, general elections.

But according to SALC, the civil rights group had previously brought many challenges before the court which had not been dismissed.

Ramjathan-Keogh said: The court insisted that Veritas has no legal standing, despite Veritas having brought many constitutional cases previously without encountering similar challenges to its legal standing. The court insisted that this position determined that the application filed by Veritas was fatally defective and accordingly dismissed the entire application without considering the merits. In addition, there is a costs order against Veritas on a higher than normal scale, despite there being no justification for this."

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Read more on:    salc  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  zimbabwe 2018 elections
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