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This article participates on the following special index pages:
2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
elections electoral inconsistency: run-off or no run-off?
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
March 12, 2008
for Human Rights (ZLHR) is aware of the current debate relating
to the potential for a run-off in the presidential election. There
is currently an inconsistency in our legal system as regards the
manner in which any run-off will be held. This inconsistency lies
between section 110(3) of the Electoral
Act and section 3(1) the Second Schedule to the Electoral Act
- a schedule issued under section 110 of the principal Act.
of the Electoral Act states:-
Where two or more candidates for President are nominated, and after
a poll taken in terms of subsection (2) no candidate receives a
majority of the total number of valid votes cast, a second election
shall be held within twenty-one days after the previous election
in accordance with this Act. [emphasis is ours]
3(1) of the Second Schedule to the Electoral Act states:-
Subject to subparagraph (2), after the number of votes received
by each candidate as shown in each constituency return has been
added together in terms of subparagraph (3) of paragraph 2, the
Chief Elections Officer shall forthwith declare the candidate who
- where there
are two candidates, the greater number of vote
- where there
are more than two candidates, the greatest number of votes;
to be duly elected as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with
effect from the day of such declaration. [emphasis is ours]
As it is, section
110(3) requires that there be a run-off should no one candidate
get a 'majority of the votes cast' whereas the schedule
states that the person with the highest number of votes (notwithstanding
that they are not a majority of the votes cast) should be declared
the President of Zimbabwe.
inconsistency has the potential to cause serious problems in the
event that none of the Presidential candidates obtain a majority
of the votes cast. As such, we have felt it necessary to bring this
to the attention of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and
ask the question as to how it will handle this discrepancy. We have
also felt it necessary to clarify ZEC's administrative preparedness
to handle the possibility of a run-off.
It is trite
that the electoral system should be certain and its integrity should
be unimpeachable. As such, the uncertainty which this inconsistency
creates is unacceptable and requires immediate clarification.
Clarity of the
law is integral in keeping the public informed about the electoral
process and ensuring that elections are conducted efficiently, freely,
fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law. People's
choices for public office should be backed by full knowledge of
all relevant factors for a democracy to function properly.
ZLHR has made
an effort to solicit the views of ZEC as to how it intends/ has
intended to interpret this provision, but in spite of the stated
and restated urgency of the matter, has to date received no response.
Neither has there been any form of public education on the electoral
process in respect of the carrying out of the presidential (and
other) elections and any run-off, a matter raised by ZLHR in its
correspondence. It may therefore become necessary to institute legal
action on an urgent basis to obtain clarity in this regard.
We shall keep
you updated as developments arise.
Visit the ZLHR
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