A NATIONAL association of the handicapped this week filed an urgent High Court application seeking the reversal of the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures (Amendment of Electoral Act)Â (No 2) Regulations 2008 that allows police officers into polling booths to assist the handicapped and the illiterate.
The organisation, the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped, is an umbrella body of disabled people that promotes and protects their interests.
â€œI respectfully submit that this is an urgent matter as it concerns important electoral issues which have to be adjudicated upon before the elections, which are set to take place on the 29th March 2008,â€ said Masimba Kuchera, director of the association in his founding affidavit.
The association said Sections 59 and 60 of the Electoral Act as amended by Act No 17 of 2007 takes away from applicants the right to choose who can assist them in the voting process by imposing police officers upon them as their sole choice.
â€œTo safeguard the secrecy of the ballot applicants require to be assisted by a person of their own choice, without a limitation from where to choose,â€ Kuchera said in the court application. â€œThey need to be assisted by someone whom they can… trust, someone they can confide in and someone they can trust with their ballot.â€
Kuchera added that the imposition of police officers on the handicapped was a gross infringement of their rights to privacy and free expression of their political will as they would be forced to be assisted by persons that they hardly know.
By Jesilyn Dendere