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This article participates on the following special index pages:
2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
inconvenient truth (Part II): A complete guide to the recount of
votes in Zimbabwe's "harmonised" elections
Derek Matyszak, Research and Advocacy Unit, Idasa
April 29, 2008
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Inconvenient Truth analysed the various explanations given by
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) for releasing the results
of the presidential poll from the harmonised elections that took
place in Zimbabwe on the 29th March, 2009. Votes were cast in four
elections, Presidential, the House of Assembly, the Senate and Local
Government. While the results for the parliamentary elections were
released (eventually) by ZEC at a national level, at the time of
writing the official results for the presidential election remain
unknown to the electorate.
The last of
various explanations for this delay was advanced by ZEC's
lawyer during the course of an urgent court application, made by
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on the 6th April 2008 to
compel the release of the result. It had not, at that time, seven
days after the poll, been advanced by ZEC itself. This explanation,
which now appears to have been implicitly adopted by ZEC, is that
ZEC is acting in terms of section 67A(4) (see annexure A) of the
Act ("the Act"). The subsection provides that ZEC
may "on its own initiative" order a recount of votes
in any election. ZEC's contention thus appears to be that
it cannot release the presidential result while the recount is in
progress. However, nothing in the Act stipulates that ZEC may withhold
the result of the presidential poll while a recount is underway.
On the contrary, the Act specifically requires the result to be
announced "forthwith" after the verification and collation
process. ZEC has sought to evade this obvious requirement by obfuscating
the verification process and implying that the recount is part of
the verification procedure. It is not. The meaning of "verification"
is set out in the Act (section 65) and refers simply to presidential
candidates checking integrity of the constituency returns sent to
the Chief Election Officer, that is, that the numbers have not been
altered en route and that the 210 returns to be added up are the
same documents signed by their representatives at constituency level.
It does not refer to a forensic audit of the count, as ZEC officials
have sought to imply. These concerns were addressed in Part I of
An Inconvenient Truth. This article focuses on the recount itself,
though some of the issues in Part I will need to be repeated. Some
of the conclusions reached earlier are also strengthened during
the course of the analysis.
the implied basis for the recount, needs to be examined closely
in order to ascertain the legitimacy of ZEC's actions. Before
ZEC may order a recount on its own initiative in terms of this subsection,
seven conditions must be met:
1. ZEC must
consider that there are reasonable grounds for believing that
a miscount has occurred at polling station level [section 67A(4)
2. ZEC must state the specific polling stations where a miscount
of this nature is believed to have occurred and in which election
the miscount has occurred - Local Government, Parliamentary or
Presidential [section 67A(5)(a)]
3. ZEC must have reasonable grounds for believing that the miscount
is significant enough to have affected the result of the election
4. ZEC must obtain an order from the Electoral Court in order
to open the ballot boxes to conduct the recount [section 70(4)].
5. ZEC's purpose in conducting the recount must be with
a view to instituting a prosecution in relation to an election
or election return [section 70(4)].
6. ZEC must also specify the time, date and place for the recount
and the procedure to be adopted [section 67A(5)(b)].
7. ZEC must undertake and complete the recount within 14 days
of the declaration of the result in all constituencies where election
petitions have not been filed [section 70(3)(a)].
Each and every
one of these seven grounds must exist before any recount ordered
by ZEC may be considered lawful.
In what follows,
an analysis is made as to whether ZEC has complied with these requirements
in relation to the on-going recount.
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