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35 High Court Judges, 50 magistrates appointed to arbitrate electoral disputes

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Staff Reporter

Thirty-five High Court Judges and 50 magistrates have been appointed to arbitrate electoral disputes until the end of the year, ZEC Chairperson, Priscilla Chigumba revealed Monday.

Chigumba told a press briefing in Harare that the appointments were done in accordance with Section 162-1- of the Electoral Act.

“The law provides for the establishment and jurisdiction of the Electoral Court. Sections 161-162 of the Electoral Act provide for the setting up of these courts which have no jurisdiction to try any criminal cases,” she said.

Chigumba said the judgments of the Electoral Courts would be enforceable in the same way as the judgments, orders and directions of the High Court.

She said ZEC was working with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission which would be monitoring and assessing human rights freedoms and to investigate the conduct of any authority or [person where human rights violations would have been raised.

“In terms of Section 40K of the Electoral Act, the ZHRC may observe any election and electoral process in order to ensure respect for human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution,” she said.

Chigumba also noted that Multi-party Liaison Committees had been established to deal with the issues of conflict management at National, Constituency and Local authority levels, and consist of ZEC representative, representative of each political party contesting the elections, two representatives of an independent candidate contesting in each constituency and a person invited by representatives of every political party represented in the liaison committee.

“The commission is currently training its 10 Provincial Elections Officers who will be responsible for overseeing the establishment of the Multi-Party Liaison Committees.

Meanwhile, ZEC Commissioner Netsai Mushonga, who is a member of the Accreditation Committee, said observers had started coming into the country, with the Commission processing twelve applications per week.

She said no one had been turned away so far from the time the accreditation of observers started.

“We have invited observers from 46 countries and we have seen those countries starting to come in and we are looking forward to receiving from the European Union, SADC and the US Embassy,” she said.