Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe meets with former Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejah Kabbah in Harare on Thursday, April 3, 2008.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Zimbabwe will be represented by three Cabinet ministers and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs at today’s Sadc summit called by the regional group’s chairman, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, to discuss the just-ended elections, a senior official said yesterday.
The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Joey Bimha, said President Mugabe would not attend today’s Sadc summit in Lusaka, which he described as unnecessary.
Ambassador Bimha told ZBC-News that Zimbabwe would instead be represented by himself, Rural Housing and Social Amenities Minister Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa and Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
The opposition MDC-T has said its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai—who is claiming victory in the March 29 presidential election — will attend the Lusaka summit.
Ambassador Bimha said the summit was "unnecessary", as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was still busy collating results of the presidential election.
In an interview with ZBC-News shortly before leaving for Lusaka, Ambassador Bimha said Government was not deliberately delaying the release of the results.
Government has made it clear that it was waiting for ZEC to finish the verification of the results in some constituencies before the announcement.
Ambassador Bimha said ZEC was an independent body made up of people selected by both the opposition and the ruling party and Government does not have the power to push the electoral body to release the results.
"The summit was called without consultation with the Zimbabwean Government," the Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Bright Matonga, told AFP earlier.
Announcing the summit, Mr Mwanawasa noted that the elections were accepted by international observers, including Sadc, and he commended "the people of Zimbabwe for the calm and peaceful manner in which the elections were conducted".
"Similarly, I appeal to them to maintain the same spirit of calmness which they exhibited during the elections as they await the results of the presidential elections.
"Given the developments immediately following the elections, I have decided, as chair of Sadc, to call an Extraordinary Summit to discuss ways and means of assisting the people of Zimbabwe with the current impasse as well as adopt a co-ordinated approach to the situation in that country," Mr Mwanawasa said.
There has been pressure from the opposition parties to the international community to push for the release of the results of the presidential election.
Sadc has indicated its preference to resolve any issues within the region.
ZEC has been engaged in verifying the results of a close contest that could result in a run-off between the top two contenders — Cde Mugabe and the main opposition leader, Tsvangirai.
Although the opposition party has claimed victory, independent monitors have said their tallies indicate that a run-off is required as neither candidate received more than half of the votes.
The harmonised elections included four ballot papers for President, Senate, National Assembly and local councillors. Results for the latter were announced at ward level, while the parliamentary results were announced nationally at intervals by ZEC as the count was verified.
Vote counting was done at each polling station and the results posted there before forwarding to collation centres for tallying.
Therefore, it is possible for parties and individuals to make their own calculation of the results, but this is not official and it is illegal for anybody except ZEC to announce the results.
This is similar to the situation in Mozambique in the December 1999 elections, when opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama announced that he had won the presidential election based on partial results and a "parallel count". The national electoral commission took 16 days to collate, check and verify the results, which showed that he had not, in fact, won the election.
ZEC has stressed the need for patience and has said they are working as fast as they can but each vote counts.
Four ZEC officials appear in court
FOUR Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts on allegations of abusing duty and causing loss of votes to presidential candidates Cde Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai in the harmonised March 29 elections. elections.
Eastridge Primary School headmaster Stephen Mukoko (63), Kuwadzana 7 Primary School headmaster Mezah Mazambiri (44), Salary Services Bureau secretary Tariro Midzi (41) and an education officer, Nelson Kapisa (55), are also facing an alternative charge of wilfully failing to perform duty under the Electoral Act.
It is the State’s contention that as a result of the actions of the four, Cde Mugabe lost 141 votes while Tsvangirai and Makoni were prejudiced of 60 and 15 votes respectively in three Harare constituencies in the just-ended polls.
The quartet’s appearance also came at a time when four other electoral officers were dragged before a Bindura magistrate on similar charges.
Jew Kuta Sibanda (57), Gilbert Runzonza (44), Richard Yotamu Daka (39) and Canaan Kaseke (age not given) appeared before Bindura magistrate Mr Charles Murove facing fraud charges or alternatively breaching the Electoral Act.
Mukoko, Mazambiri, Midzi and Kapisa were not asked to plead to the charges when they were arraigned before Harare magistrate Ms Olivia Mariga, who remanded them in custody to Monday for bail ruling.
Prosecutor Mr Tapiwa Kasema alleges that Midzi and Mazambiri, who were stationed at Kuwadzana East Constituency, failed to collate results and prejudiced Makoni of 10 votes.
The two allegedly received V11 forms from Crowborough North tents A and B indicating that Makoni had garnered a total of 73 votes but wrongly completed on V23 forms that he got 63.
Kapisa, who was based in Glen Norah Constituency, is being accused of wrongly indicating on the V23 forms that Cde Mugabe had garnered 260 votes instead of 396 in wards 27 and 28.
It is further alleged that Tsvangirai lost 60 votes in Harare South Constituency after Mukoko had negligently indicated that he polled 5 407 votes instead of 5 467 while Cde Mugabe and Makoni lost five votes each.
The four were arrested separately when the alleged scandal was unearthed.
The State also alleges that such cases impacted negatively on the announcement of the presidential poll result.
Sibanda, Runzonza, Daka and Kaseke, represented by lawyer Mr Graciano Manyurureni, were remanded out of custody on free bail, but Sibanda and Runzonza remained in custody after prosecutor Mr Emmanuel Muchenga indicated that he would appeal against their release.
Allegations against Sibanda and Runzonza are that on March 30 the two, who were at Muzarabani South Constituency command centre, failed to display the results for the constituency at the command centre.
Daka, who was based in Dotito, Mt Darwin, allegedly failed to capture a postal vote for Cde Mugabe in Ward 36 and results from two wards on forms V11 AND V23.
He also allegedly failed to capture another postal vote for Tsvangirai in ward 9.
Kaseke, who was also a constituency election officer for Mt Darwin North, allegedly omitted Cde Mugabe’s 172 votes and Tsvangirai’s 174 votes in ward 3.
The State further alleges that Kaseke also failed to note that he had inflated the MDC House of Assembly candidate’s result by one vote.
He is expected back in court on April 21.
In another case, an MDC-T polling agent has since appeared before another Bindura magistrate, Ms Charity Maunga, charged with breaching the Electoral Act.
The State alleges that Miriam Semeni (34) cast her vote at Hermann Gmeiner Primary School in Bindura when her name was not on the ward’s roll but was in ward 14.
Semeni allegedly took advantage of the increasing number of the people and had taken ballot papers and proceeded to vote.
A polling officer who had told her earlier that she was not supposed to vote at the centre saw her and reported the matter to the police, who arrested her immediately.
Semeni, represented by lawyer Mr Ernest Jena of Dinha, Bonongwe and Partners, is denying the charge, arguing the polling officer did not fully explain the implications of a missing name on the voters’ roll.
In another case, nine Zanu-PF youths were fined $1 billion each, or alternatively 30 days in prison, after they were found guilty of disorderly conduct in public.
Richman Mudzengerere (30), Desmond Mavunga (30), Edward Chinoro (29), Botha Jaji (28), Freddy Joe (28), Watson Kaseke (24), Rodrick Dongo (20), Tawanda Kaseke (18) and Terrence Gotora (18) had denied the charge but were found guilty when they were tried before Ms Maunga.
The State proved that the nine had approached Ms Florence Nyamangara and Ms Itai Katsiru at their lodges at Brinkburn Farm in Bindura and ordered them to remove their property, saying they intended to use their houses to rear chickens.
Sensing danger, the two complainants locked their houses and rushed to a nearby roadblock where they reported the matter, leading to the arrest of the 10.
Police ban all political rallies
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police yesterday banned all political rallies until the results of the March 29 elections have been announced.
The ban comes after MDC-T applied to hold a rally tomorrow.
Police have also warned that they would decisively deal with anyone who is spoiling for a fight.
Addressing journalists yesterday at the Police General Headquarters in Harare, Police Elections Commander Senior Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango said there were many elements who wanted the country to lose peace but police would remain firm in maintaining peace and tranquillity.
"The Zimbabwe Republic Police will be very firm in its endeavour to maintain peace. Surely, those who want to provoke a breach of the peace, whoever they are and whatever office they hold, will be dealt with severely," Snr Asst Comm Mazango said.
He said the application by the MDC-T to hold a rally was turned down because the post-election period was still sensitive.
Last week, the MDC-T attempted to place advertisements in newspapers claiming that it had won the presidential election with more than 60 percent of the vote and parliamentary elections with more than 80 percent of the constituencies.
The adverts were rejected on the basis that they were false as the results were still being announced and were an attempt to whip up political emotions.
"The MDC-T has today (yesterday) applied to hold a rally this Sunday (April 13, 2008). Besides failing to meet the legal requirements in the giving of notice, we are all aware that the current period is still very sensitive unless it is the intention of that party to provoke and cause mayhem for the purposes of satisfying their masters," said Snr Asst Comm Mazango.
"The police have been directed to deal effectively with any breaches of the law."
The police also warned the MDC-T to desist from agitating for a war.
"As the ZRP, we also realise that the MDC-T is spoiling for a fight. We are aware that they have deployed around 350 youths countrywide to man bases.
"We wonder what such bases are for at this particular time except to ignite violence countrywide," he said.
He ordered the youths to immediately vacate the bases and return to their homes.
"These youths are, therefore, warned to vacate the bases and return home immediately without further ado otherwise the law will descend on them," Snr Asst Comm Mazango said.
"We urge the MDC-T not to use the youths as pawns because the life of every Zimbabwean is precious."
He urged people to ignore the calls by the MDC-T for stayaways. "We are also aware that the MDC-Tsvangirai faction is agitating for stayaways. This is an unfortunate development for a party that wants to claim to rule Zimbabwe. People are urged to go about their normal business and to go to work," he said.
Snr Asst Comm Mazango assured that security would be provided. "Police are fully deployed to ensure that peace prevails in the country," he said.
He commended the nation for continuing to uphold peace, which has prevailed before, during and after the polls.
"Allow me to thank the nation for the peace and tranquil atmosphere that has prevailed in the country. The peace and tranquil atmosphere that has prevailed before, during and after the elections has surprised many people within and outside the country. Some people would have wished that this country descended into anarchy," he said.
"We commend everyone for their effort to uphold peace and we guarantee that peace will prevail and as the ZRP we will strive towards this goal."
Snr Asst Comm Mazango urged the nation and other stakeholders to remain calm as the nation waits for the announcement of the results.
"As everyone is aware that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is working tirelessly on this issue, therefore we call on the nation, political parties and the international community to bear with the commission," he said.
Commenting on the 11 ZEC officials that have been arrested on allegations of electoral fraud, he urged the courts to be firm and mete out deterrent sentences.
Church leaders meet ZEC
CHURCH leaders met the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission yesterday and expressed satisfaction with ZEC’s explanation over the delay in announcing results of the presidential election.
The heads of Christian denominations met ZEC in Harare to seek an explanation over the delay and urged the nation to maintain peace while the election body does its work.
Speaking to journalists after a closed-door meeting with ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe, Bishops Trevor Manhanga and Patrick Mutume expressed satisfaction with the explanation they got.
"It was a free meeting, church leaders expressed the concerns they have and Justice Chiweshe answered the issues raised. He said he could not go into detail as the matter is before the courts," Bishop Manhanga said.
ZEC has publicised results of House of Assembly and Senate elections but is yet to announce the outcome of the presidential election contested by President Mugabe of Zanu-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and independents Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana.
Bishop Manhanga urged the nation to maintain peace as witnessed before, during and after the country’s first harmonised elections.
"We appeal to the people to remain peaceful. We are confident it is going to be a fair process to determine who is the ultimate winner. We thank the nation for the maturity they have shown. A nation cannot go forward when there is violence," said Bishop Manhanga.
Bishop Mutume said they wanted to understand why there was a delay in announcing the results.
"He (Justice Chiweshe) told us that he is not under Zanu-PF, MDC-T or any other party. He said his organisation is free to make decisions. If we did not push him to the wall, it (meeting) could have taken 10 minutes. Important questions were asked," he said.
"As pastors, we are the ones who start receiving blows. This has pushed us to say let’s go and see the man in charge," said Bishop Mutume.
Justice Chiweshe said he discussed the "elections in general" with the clergy.
He said it was not true that ZEC had not announced the results because of a High Court application by the MDC-T.
"No, that is not the correct position. We said we are unable to discuss issues because the matter is pending in the High Court."
He said ZEC had not stopped its functions simply because there was a case before the courts.
"We have not stopped what we are supposed to do. If ready with the results, we will release them," Justice Chiweshe said.
Justice Chiweshe said ZEC was fully responsible for all electoral issues and anyone with queries should approach
"ZEC is responsible for running elections and people should be directed to us. They should refer them to us," he added.
The commission, Justice Chiweshe said, was not working under pressure from anyone.
After the results of three other elections were announced, he said there was no need to keep staff at the National Command Centre.
Justice Chiweshe said the anomalies discovered in some constituencies were unearthed by ZEC, political parties and contesting candidates.
High Court judge Justice Tendayi Uchena will deliver judgment in the case in which the MDC-T is seeking an order for ZEC to announce presidential results on Monday next week.