ALTHOUGH the new constitution grants political rights to prisoners, the country’s estimated 17 000 inmates would not be allowed to vote in the July 31 elections as the time left is inadequate for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to put in place logistics required for them to cast their ballot.
Report by Hazel Ndebele
Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday that the country’s inmates would not be able to vote.
“As Zec, we acknowledge that Chapter 4, Section 4.18 of the new charter states that every Zimbabwean has the right to vote,” said Makarau. “However, we do not have mechanisms for prisoners to vote in this year’s elections. We have already started engaging with relevant stakeholders to enable prisoners to vote in future. There are many things involved before allowing prisoners to vote, which is why, as Zec, we are saying they will not be able to vote now, but in future.”
Makarau added that voting is a process which includes voter education and voter registration.
“It is not a matter of us just walking into prisons and letting them cast their votes during elections.
“Others are serving 20 years in prison; who are they going to vote for? Political parties would have to campaign in prisons and this needs security,” she said.
“Prisoners have to be educated on the political environment outside prison, therefore, all this cannot be done within the short time left.
“For one to register as a voter, one needs to secure an identity card and establish the ward or constituency he/she belongs to, and inmates had to go through all the required processes in the short time given to be able to vote.”
Zimbabwe’s second round of voter registration commenced on June 19 and ended on July 9, and with the general elections set for July 31, those who did not register will not be able to cast their ballots.