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2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
patient, stand back and watch
April 10, 2008
Mugabe steals an election, all the preparation for the theft is
done before hand, and it is largely an inside job. The voters-
roll is pumped up with the dead and fictitious to allow for ballot
box stuffing and the manipulation of voter numbers. Those known
to be unsympathetic to the despot are quietly removed or not given
the chance to register in the first place. Villagers are told where
their next meal is coming from and if they are able to feed themselves
the ability to do so is removed smartly, either by breaking an arm
or destroying a small holding. The voting process is kept firmly
under ZANU PF control.
Despite all the usual
preparation for the theft, Mugabe failed to come away with the booty.
Had he done so, you may be sure the results of the March 29th election
would have been crowed from the roof tops in short order. Instead,
we are being told to be patient while he has a second attempt to
steal the election. This time the theft is being done in broad daylight.
And we have been asked to stand back and watch, presumably agog
with admiration like the SADC leaders, while the master shows them
how to steal an election without doing anything as crass as Kibaki.
Basic Stalinist tenet:
it is not who votes that counts but who counts the vote. So make
sure the ZEC personnel appear sufficiently retarded for their claim
that the Act does not say how many days they have to add up a column
of 210 figures seem plausible.
But do they not have
2 388 381 votes to tally? No. ZEC, the vote counters themselves,
published an advert in the state media to say the vote counting
would be done in the following way.
Ballots are counted at
a polling station for all four elections, including the presidential
election. The counting begins "immediately" after polling
ends. The results for all four elections are entered on the polling
station returns and each party-s polling agent invited to
sign the same. The results are posted outside the polling station
for all to see. The polling station return goes to the ward polling
centre where all polling station returns are verified by the local
government candidates. The verification process simply requires
that they may check with their polling agents that the numbers on
the return received at the ward polling centre match the ones their
polling agents certified and signed for at the polling station.
The returns are added together for all the elections "without
delay" including the presidential election and the local candidate
with the most votes in that election is then and there declared
the winner. The results are posted outside the ward polling centre.
The returns from the nearly 2000 wards are sent "immediately"
to the constituency elections officers. After just under 100 returns
from the ward polling stations have been received by each constituency
elections officer, each constituency elections officer informs the
candidates of the time (not date) when they can come and verify
the return and observe the addition. The legislation assumes that
the constituency officers can do this while the candidates are standing
there even though the number of ward returns exceeds the number
of their collective fingers. It thus does not stipulate any number
of days for the process. As the counting is done in the "presence"
of the candidates they would collapse from lack of food or sleep
if the process was to take days as suggested. The results for the
three remaining elections are posted outside the constituency command
centre and the constituency election officer not ZEC announces the
House of Assembly candidate duly elected for that constituency.
This latter point has been conceded by ZEC who said they were just
announcing the result at national level to help out - despite
the fact that their announcement always ended with the fact that
the candidate was thus declared duly elected. Why it took them several
days to make the announcement at national level when the job was
already finished, klaar and done by the constituency elections officer
is not too deep a mystery.
After the returns
have been added together by the constituency elections officer,
they are "forthwith" sent to the Chief Elections Officer
in terms of the Second Schedule to the Electoral
Act. This contradicts the amended section 65 to some extent.
In terms of that section the constituency returns also need to be
collated at provincial level for the Senate results. ZEC thus indicated
that the returns are tallied at provincial level by the senatorial
elections officer for elections to the Senate before being sent
to the Chief Elections Officer. The result is announced by the senatorial
elections officer. However, a summation of the presidential results
from the 10 provinces must still be made and according to ZEC posted
for the public to see. This means that the after the senatorial
results have been collated there are 60 figures which can be added
together to determine the presidential result. Hence the reluctance
to release these results.
However, the Electoral
Act is clear that the constituency officers (not senatorial elections
officers) must forthwith send their returns to the Chief Elections
Officer to tally for the presidential count. In any event the Chief
Elections Officer does his tally from the 210 constituency returns.
To reiterate, this process was outlined by the Chief Elections Officer
himself and thus should not be controversial.
The Chief Elections officer
then sets a time (not day) for the collation and verification of
the constituency returns (not polling station returns). This must
be done "on receipt of the constituency returns". Not
when he feels like it or when Mugabe says so. The Chief Elections
Officer tallies the votes from the 210 constituency returns for
a single election, the least onerous stage in the process. And if
he has any anxiety about his numerical skill he can check his total
against those 60 numbers posted at senatorial level. However, ZEC
still seems wonder why the Electoral Act is silent on the number
of days the Chief Elections Officer has to add up a column of 210
The collation and verification
is done in the presence of the candidates, so again it must be taken
that the legislature assumed that the Chief Elections Officer is
sufficiently numerate not to require days for the process. Once
the constituency returns are added together the Chief Elections
Officer shall forthwith declare the person with the most votes (provided
the majority is absolute) duly declared elected president with effect
from the day of such declaration i.e. immediately. The President
assumes office immediately after taking the oath of office but in
any event not later than 48 hours. Not after Grace has had enough
time to remove all her ferrogama shoes to Malaysia. Immediately.
The Chief Elections Officer
must inform the candidates of the time and place of verification
and collation. The Act does not specify when this time must be.
However, by using "time" rather than day, given that
this is the penultimate act in a series which all take place "forthwith"
"immediately" or "without delay", and given
that there are no further acts to be completed before convening
the verification and collation, one can assume that the legislature
contemplated hours rather than weeks as is the current position.
Furthermore, if there is no candidate with an absolute majority,
a second election must be held within 21 days of "the previous
election". The legislation does not say 21 days from the date
the result is announced. And if it had meant such it would have
said so. "Previous election" cannot mean from the day
a person was elected as president, as in the case of the need for
a run off this will not have happened. It can only refer to election
day; i.e. 29th March 2008. This fact supports the contention that
the legislature expected each of the electoral processes to take
place one after the other and immediately after the preceding one
is completed. The time for the process is not stipulated in days.
By the use of the words immediately, forthwith etc, the legislature
expects each process to commence immediately and the next to commence
without delay after the previous one is completed. Accordingly,
the time allowed for the completion of the process is implied and
cannot be stipulated specifically. The legislated deadline is as
long as it takes to undertake the steps outlined by the Electoral
Act, all of which must be done without delay.
Thus the time given for
announcing the presidential result is as long as it takes to verify
210 constituency returns and then add them together. The announcement
is made immediately that is done. Not when Mugabe says if the results
are OK it can be done. Not when ZEC says when we are ready. Not
when ZEC says we want to check out what happened in a polling station
in Chitungwiza, not when the CIO says when we have finished ferreting
around amongst ballots which are supposed to be sealed and finished
cooking the books. Not when the Mugabe-s thugs indicate they
have had enough time to soften up the rural populace before observers
arrive for the run off. Immediately.
ZEC-s excuse for
not following the procedures it outlined and which are set out in
the Electoral Act is that section 67A says they can investigate
any complaint of a miscount. Indeed they can. But the complaint
raised by ZANU PF relates to the House of Assembly count and must
be made within 48 hours of the result being announced. Not only
was ZANU PF-s complaint raised one week later but the result
of the Presidential Election, as we all know has not been announced.
The alleged miscount must be large enough to affect the result.
ZANU PF claims a few hundred votes missing here and there. Accordingly,
ZEC cannot act under section 67A.
We, however, are supposed,
says Mr. Mbeki, to be patient, stand back and watch the master thief
violate the clear provisions of the Act. If Tsvangirai has won with
an absolute majority, which may well be the case, then the failure
to announce the result can be described in one word: coup. QED.
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