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This article participates on the following special index pages:
2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
position on challenging election results/outcome
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
April 04, 2008
Parliamentary (House of Assembly & Senatorial) Petitions
167 states that "A petition complaining of an undue return
or an undue election of a member of Parliament by reason of want
of qualification, disqualification, electoral malpractice, irregularity
or any other cause whatsoever may be presented to the Electoral
Court by any candidate at such election.
- Section 168
(2) states that "an election petition shall be presented
within fourteen days after the end of the period to which the
election to which it relates"
period is defined in the Electoral
Act as the period between the calling of the election and the
declaration of the result of the poll for the last constituency.
NOTE that: In
terms of the Electoral Act section 66 (1) winning candidates for
the House of Assembly and the Senate are collated and declared at
the House of Assembly collation centers (constituency centers) and
the Senatorial collation centers respectively by constituency election
officers. These must subsequently be published but do not, by law,
have to be publicly announced as is currently being done by ZEC.
to be the winner by the constituency elections officer at the constituency
centers then such candidate shall be "duly elected as a member
of Parliament with effect from the day of such declaration."
[Section 66 (1)]
It is advised
that immediately after a declaration by the constituency elections
officer the fourteen days begin to take effect and any petitions
and action against the result must be taken within such fourteen
day period to avoid being out of time.
- Petition against
parliamentary results - a petition made within fourteen days must
automatically secure all election related documents and ballot papers
for the next six months. Where the maximum six months is coming
to an end a candidate must ensure that a court order is obtained
directing the Chief Elections Officer to continue to keep the ballot
papers until the conclusion of the petition by the Electoral Court.
Presidential Election Petitions
110 (6) of the Electoral Act provides that the result of an election
to the office of President shall be declared by the Chief Elections
Officer who shall publish such result in the Gazette and in such
other manner as he or she considers necessary to give sufficient
publicity to the result.
- Section 111
(1) provides that an election petition against the result of an
election to the office of President must be presented to the Electoral
Court within thirty days of the declaration of the result of the
Note that: while
a petition against a presidential election can be filed within 30
days, there is a danger that a chief elections officer may proceed
to destroy documents and ballot papers concerning such an election
within 14 days of the declaration of results. It is thus important
that a candidate who wishes to challenge the result cause to be
secured the ballot papers and documents within fourteen days of
the declaration of the result.
Where a candidate,
after declaration of results at constituency centres (parliamentary
elections) and by the Chief Elections Officer (Presidential Elections)
intends to challenge such outcome of the elections, it is imperative
that they secure the ballot papers, as this forms crucial evidence
in the petition.
Note that Section
70 (3) allows a Chief Elections Officer where no petition has been
lodged in relation to results within a constituency to cause to
be destroyed all the documents (including ballot papers) relating
to that constituency not earlier than the fourteenth day after the
end of the election period (which is when a declaration of a winner
has been made). Where however a petition has been lodged, within
fourteen (14) days of the declaration of results and a winner, then
the Chief Elections officer must retain FOR SIX MONTHS all the documents
relating to that constituency. After the six months he may destroy
the documents/ballot papers, unless otherwise directed by an order
of the Electoral Court.
against presidential results - While a petition to the Electoral
Court may be made within thirty days, there is a danger that all
documents relating to that constituency, which documents, due to
the vagueness of section 70 (3) may include those specifically relating
to the presidential election, may be destroyed by the Chief Elections
Officer after fourteen days of the declaration of a winner within
a constituency. Thus a court application can be made to the Electoral
Court securing all documents within constituencies that are concerned
with the presidential elections as a candidate prepares his petition.
are strongly encouraged to cite the constituency officer, senatorial
constituency and Chief Elections Officer in their petition, the
presumption being that such a course of action automatically makes
the relevant official aware that the relevant election material
is in issue before the courts and thus prevent tampering with the
of the Electoral Act provides that an election petition must be
determined within six months from the date of its presentation.
- A decision
of the Electoral Court on a question of fact shall be final.
- A decision
of the Electoral Court on a question of law may be the subject
of an appeal to the Supreme Court.
An appeal to
the Supreme Court must be determined within six months from the
date of the lodging of the appeal.
Thus the longest
period within which a petition must be heard and finalised (where
there is an appeal to the Supreme Court) is one year.
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