293/04 : Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa / Zimbabwe Summary of Facts 1. The communication is submitted by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (Complainants) and deals with the Zimbabwean Government’s (Respondent) failure to expedite administration of justice, the functioning of the judiciary and alleged violation of the right to participate in government. 2. The Complainants allege that in the 2000 General Elections that took place in Zimbabwe the results of 40 constituencies were contested and the court was petitioned to invalidate the results. It is alleged that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party file[d] petitions to invalidate results in 38 constituencies, the ZANU (PF), the ruling party filed one petition and the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) filed one petition. 3. The Complainants also allege that in an attempt to prevent the filing of petitions the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe passed a regulation giving him a wide variety of power in order to alter electoral laws as he sees fit. Further reasons for this action were to eliminate the jurisdiction of the courts from entertaining election petitions. According to the Complainants, the Electoral Act (Modification) No. 3 Notice of 2000 Statutory Instrument 318/2000 (Annexure 1) passed by the Respondent had the effect of legalising the outcome of the elections and oust the jurisdiction of the courts from hearing the petitions. 4. The MDC challenged the Regulation in the Supreme Court, and the Court held in its favour stating that “the notice effectively deprived them of that rights…The right of unimpeded access to courts is of cardinal importance for the adjudication of justiciable disputes”. This ruling opened the way for the filing of election petitions in 40 constituencies. 5. According to the Complainants, in spite of the ruling, the Supreme Court has failed to provide meaningful redress to the 109 petitioners. They claim that by delaying to address the grievances the Courts have deprived the petitioners of the right to protection of the law, and have their matter heard within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court and invariably, the citizens’ right to participate in their government. 6. The Complainants further allege that by failing to respect their own judgments, the judiciary and the Courts have proved ineffective in providing meaningful and practical redress which would constitute an effective remedy at national level. Thus, according to the Complainants, the State has undermined the independence of the judiciary contrary to Article 26 of the Charter. 7. The Complainants hold that failure of the judiciary to expeditiously deal with the election petitions is not only in contravention of international norms but contrary to domestic laws of the country, in particular, Rule 31 of the Electoral (Applications, Appeals and Petitions) Rules 1995, (SI 74A/95) which states that “the Registrar and all parties to any stated case, petition or application referred to in these rules shall take steps necessary to ensure that the matter is dealt with as quickly as possible”. 8. The Complainants annexed to the communication the different classes of petitions that were submitted to the Court. 7 petitions presented by political parties have not been addressed and no decisions have been made concerning them; in addition, any efforts made to have the petitions addressed have been met with reluctance and indifference on the part of the Court. Furthermore, 11 petitions have been dismissed by the High Court; and any appeals made in regards to the dismissal of the petitions have not been resolved. Complaint 9. The Complainants allege that the Respondent has violated articles 1, 2, 3, 7(1)(a), 7(1)(d), 13(1), and 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

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