Efforts by Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), to force the electoral body to print this year’s ballot papers using ordinary bond paper as opposed to the special ballot papers has hit a brick wall after the High Court has dismissed the application.
High Court judge, Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa, who entertained Zanu’s application and delivered judgement on May 30, 2018 said, Zanu had failed to establish a well-grounded fear of irreparable harm if the relief sought was not granted.
Soon after the announcement of the election date by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu’s president, Chawaona Wilbroad Kanoti, filed an urgent chamber application seeking to compel Zec not to use special but ordinary bond paper for printing of the ballot papers.
Justice Munangati-Manongwa said the court did not see how the chemical composition, type and make of the ballot paper would assist Zanu’s leader in exercising his rights to stand for public office or affect his right to free and fair elections.
“There is no evidence placed before the court to buttress the allegations of an electoral manipulation and how it can be achieved through the use of special ballot paper. ….as the challenge is on the chemical composition and type of the special ballot paper scientific evidence had to be presented to show the inappropriateness of the ballot paper,” Justice Munangati-Manongwa said.
The Judge said Zec had made it clear that the elections have always been done on special paper and that it could not disclose the detail for security reasons.
“To simply suggest that bond paper is appropriate is not only being naïve but to underrate the very special process. Apart from the choice of paper being the first respondent’s (Zec) exclusive prerogative, issues of security come into play. If the type, composition and nature of the paper are made public there is a danger of reproduction of the ballot paper by unscrupulous persons which actions would impact on the credibility of the whole election process.
“That the ballot paper is of a special material should, in the court’s view, create confidence in the electorate rather than create fear especially in the absence of evidence impacting on the appropriateness of the special paper.”
Kanoti had presented that if Zec is transparent, accountable and indeed independent as is expected and required of such an independent commission, it should have been ready and not fear to switch and to use normal bond paper at the forthcoming national elections, an assertion which the court dismissed.
Kanoti had also cited Zec’s chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba as the second respondent.