Monday, March 31, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: ZEC Slams Opposition for False Claims; Results Being Released; ZANU-PF Confident of Victory

Zimbabwe vote body raps MDC claims

Official results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission today indicate that both Zanu-PF and the MDC might be holding on to their existing seats, which would give victory to the ruling party.

In the southern town of Masvingo, MDC supporters are no longer celebrating, after reports said Zanu-PF had won in areas intially believed to have gone to the opposition.

Bright Matonga from the ruling Zanu-PF party told the BBC he was confident that Mr Mugabe would be re-elected and Zanu-PF would retain its majority in parliament.

Harare - The body overseeing Zimbabwe's general elections rapped the country's main opposition party on Sunday for claiming victory even before any results had been announced.

"The commission notes with concern that some stakeholders have gone on to announce purported results of the poll when in fact the results are being verified and collated," Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said in a statement.

"Those results are not official results of the poll. The official results will be announced to the nation by the commission and it urges the nation to bear with it while it completes the process of collation and verification."

The statement comes after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) held a press conference in which its secretary-general Tendai Biti said the party had "won this election beyond any reasonable doubt".

Biti based his statement on partial unofficial results collated at polling stations where counting had been completed.

The MDC also said that the ZEC, a theoretically independent body whose executives are appointed by President Robert Mugabe, was not to be trusted.

Sekeramayi, however, said patience was needed while the process to count the results from Saturday's joint presidential, parliamentary and council elections was completed.

"Zimbabwe, we will come back to you with the official results in due course and we urge all stakeholders to be patient and wait for the exercise to be completed," he said.

"We wish to commend the nation for a peaceful and tranquil electoral process. Counting of results commenced last night and as I speak, the results of all the four elections are being collated and will be announced as and when they are received."

Poll results out today: ZEC

Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission started announcing results of the 2008 harmonised elections at 6am today, after undergoing the necessary verification and authentication, ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe, announced last night.

Justice Chiweshe said although some voters might have known the results in their respective areas, ZEC was the sole election authority responsible for announcing the results.

"We envisage that by that time, all results would have reached us at the national command centre and subsequently verified.

"The commission is pleased to announce that we have received most of the results and that the necessary verification process is being done. We will start announcing the results as at 6am March 31, 2008.

"We know that the results have been eagerly-awaited both within and outside our borders, but it is of absolute necessity that the results be meticulously verified so that they bare credible,’’ said Justice Chiweshe.

He said the commission had not delayed announcing the results and called on the nation to understand that the harmonised polls were a mammoth exercise that required more time.

"Before harmonisation we would start receiving results on the morning after polling and we would be done in about 24 hours. At that time there were just 120 constituencies but we now have 210 House of Assembly constituencies. In addition to this there are 60 Senate constituencies and a thousand-plus local government wards as well as the presidential election.

"All things being equal, this process should take us four days but we have managed in 48 hours and this is by all standards a record," he said.

Justice Chiweshe said although ward, Senate and House of Assembly results could be announced by designated officers at the voting centre, Presidential results could only be announced at the national command centre.

"The Presidential result has to be declared and can therefore only be announced at national level. That can only be done at the national command centre.

"I would like to reiterate that ZEC and it alone is the sole election authority,’’ he said.

Zim elections peaceful, credible: Sadc observer mission

Herald Reporter

THE Sadc observer mission — which monitored Saturday’s harmonised elections — yesterday described the polls as having been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The run-up to the polls, the mission said, was conducive for the holding of democratic elections while the voting process was transparent.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare last night, head of the mission Mr Jose Marcos Barrica said vote counting at the polling stations was also conducted "meticulously and lawfully".

Mr Barrica, who is the Angolan Minister of Youth and Sport, urged all political parties that participated in the polls to accept the results.

"These elections were characterised by high levels of peace, tolerance and political vigour from party leaders, candidates and their supporters.

"No violence was observed countrywide except for incidents like the one in Bulawayo where the house of a Zanu-PF candidate was bombed.

"The mission abhors the use of violence in whatever form and appeals for the law to be upheld.

"With regard to the polling process, it is the mission’s view that the elections were conducted in an open and transparent manner.

"The voting process was meticulously witnessed by observers and party agents. The polling stations generally opened and closed at the prescribed times and voters behaved in an orderly manner and exercised their franchise peacefully, freely and unhindered," he said.

Mr Barrica said the elections were held in a "highly tense and polarised international atmosphere where some quarters of the international community remained negative and pessimistic about Zimbabwe and its chances for credible elections". He, however, noted that the polls were peaceful and credible.

He said all political parties and independent candidates held rallies and meetings freely and could openly wear party regalia. He also said despite earlier concerns raised over the presence of police officers in polling stations, the observer team noted that the respective officers did not interfere with voting.

Counting, he said, was also done lawfully under the close watch of election observers, party agents and electoral officers.

Mr Baricca, however, said electoral authorities should also have adequate mechanisms to deal with complaints and rumours relating to polls in order to make decisions swiftly.

Commenting on concerns that some candidates raised over statements made by some service chiefs prior to the elections, he said his team had adjudged that the statements were made in the service chiefs’ personal capacities.

"We thus conclude that, notwithstanding the concerns highlighted above, the elections held in Zimbabwe on March 29, 2008 have been a peaceful and credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe," said Mr Barrica.

"Notwithstanding the mammoth logistical challenges these harmonised elections brought to bear on all concerned, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission demonstrated high levels of professionalism, resilience and hard work in organising these complex elections. For this, ZEC deserves commendation."

The Sadc team leader commended the electorate for showing political tolerance by desisting from violence. Mr Barrica urged Zimbabweans to maintain peace.

"Consider the peace of your country. You have to avoid conflict. I have seen war, and you should avoid it," he said.

The Sadc observer team comprises 163 members drawn from 11 regional countries. In the run-up to the elections, the team deployed its members countrywide and also acquainted itself with Zimbabwe’s legal instruments governing elections.

It also collected and verified stakeholder views on the electoral playing field.

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