Thursday, April 10, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: ZANU-PF Wants Recount in 21 Constituencies; Court Ruling Monday; ANC Supports SADC Summit

Zanu-PF wants recount in 21 constituencies

Herald Reporters

ZANU-PF has increased the number of House of Assembly constituency results it is contesting from 16 to 21 amid indications that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has agreed to recount ballots of five constituencies.

The ruling party’s chairman of the sub-committee on information and publicity, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, announced this at a Press conference in Harare yesterday.

The move by Zanu-PF comes at a time when the party is gearing for a re-run of the presidential election as it is understood that the contestants — President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana — failed to garner more than 50 percent of the votes cast.

The party has also turned down overtures for a government of national unity arguing that only the ballot box could produce the country’s leadership.

Zanu-PF has also raised complaints with regard to more than 8 600 votes that were allegedly stolen from its presidential candidate Cde Mugabe in Mberengwa West, South, North and East constituencies.

"We have asked ZEC to investigate and allow for the announcement of the final results," he said.

Cde Chinamasa told journalists that ZEC had agreed to recount votes in Mutare West, Bikita West, Chimanimani West, Zhombe and Gutu South House of Assembly constituencies.

He called the Press conference to pronounce Zanu-PF’s position on the just-ended elections.

Complaints by Zanu-PF come in the wake of allegations of vote counting manipulation by ZEC officials, some of whom have since been arrested.

Recounting is expected to begin today.

Cde Chinamasa said ZEC had rejected requests for recounting in Bulilima East, Buhera South, Chegutu West, Chinhoyi, Bulawayo East, Hurungwe West and Gutu Central constituencies forcing Zanu-PF to approach the Electoral Court for redress.

He said Zanu-PF was awaiting a response from ZEC on the other seven constituencies.

"We have, as a party, raised issues in 21 constituencies where our individual members made requests within the statutory 48 hours.

"There are two routes that can be followed in terms of the electoral laws which include recounts and petitioning through the Electoral Courts," he said.

Cde Chinamasa said despite losing in the House of Assembly elections to the MDC-Tsvangirai with 97 seats against 99, Zanu-PF enjoys the popular vote in that it got the most votes representing 45 percent against 42 of the MDC-Tsvangirai faction.

The same trend obtained in the Senate elections where Zanu-PF garnered 30 seats, representing 45,49 percent against 24 of the MDC-Tsvangirai, which is 43,56 percent of the total votes cast.

"We remain the most popular party," he said.

He said the MDC-Tsvangirai formation was wrong to announce it had won the presidential election when all parties know that none of them managed the required 51 percent.

"We are disappointed with the posturing. While posturing they have approached Zanu-PF with proposals for a Government of National Unity saying they have no problem with President Mugabe remaining as Head of State. That is not the position of a winner," he said.

Cde Chinamasa said the MDC had even appealed all over the world for an issue that does not warrant international intervention.

He said the MDC was simply echoing what the British and American leaders had already said.

He said it was disturbing to note that in Kenya where more than 2 000 people were killed there were no appeals for the Security Council’s intervention.

However, the MDC-Tsvangirai faction has denied that its leader asked Zanu-PF to consider him as one of the Vice Presidents and give his party Cabinet posts in a Government of National Unity.

In a statement yesterday, MDC-Tsvangirai secretary for information and publicity Mr Nelson Chamisa denied approaching Zanu-PF saying it could not possibly do that since in its view, it won the presidential election.

He said at no time did its officials, Mr Elton Mangoma and Mr Ian Makone, approach Zanu-PF officials Cde Patrick Chinamasa and Cde Nicholas Goche with the request.

Mr Chamisa said Mr Joe Mtizwa, the Delta Beverages chief executive officer who was said to be part of the team that approached Zanu-PF, had no contacts with the MDC and was not even in the party structures.

Cde Chinamasa warned white former farmers to stop interfering with the land reform programme saying any further attempts to destabilise a legal and constitutional resettlement programme would be dealt with accordingly.

"We started with 4 000 white farmers and we have now replaced them with 350 000 black farmers. By promising a reversal of the land reform exercise the MDC is sowing seeds of destabilisation. There is no way 350 000 household farmers can leave," he said.

He said seeking a reversal of the land reform exercise was not in the interest of either the MDC or white former farmers.

"We have asked our farmers to exercise restraint," he said.

He said some of the farmers had even telephoned and threatened Cabinet ministers with bombing.

ZEC officials appear in court

Chinhoyi Bureau

EIGHT Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officers from Mashonaland West, Gweru, Mutare and Binga accused of electoral fraud during the hamornised March 29 elections have appeared in court.

Masimba Kadzimu (46), Cuthbert Maambirwi (41) and Ranganayi Chisepo (47) — who were based at the Zvimba North constituency command centre — appeared in a Chinhoyi court on allegations of depriving Zanu-PF of 51 senate votes yesterday.

Shadreck Mufute (47) who is the Hartzell Central Primary School headmaster appeared in a Mutare court while Tawanda Gonye (41), Samuel Mutanda (32), Sihle Mabhena (45) and Mbuliswa Mathe (44) appeared in the Binga court.

Midlands Provincial Elections officer Docas Mpofu (50) was not formally charged when she appeared before Gweru Provincial Magistrate, Mrs Auxillia Chiwumburu on allegations of sending wrong results to the national command centre in Harare.

Kadzimu, Maambirwi and Chisepo were remanded out of custody on free bail to April 23 after Chinhoyi magistrate Mr Ignatius Mugova had argued that the Electoral Act stipulated a fine of $10 million and does not provide for imprisonment.

The State had however, opposed bail.

The three were arrested after investigations had shown that in the final tally of the senate results, Zanu-PF lost votes which it had won during the initial count while MDC-Tsvangirai benefited.

Mufute was arrested this week on allegations of depriving President Mugabe of 10 votes, which he allegedly gave to Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential race.

When he first appeared in court on Tuesday, Mufute had applied for refusal of remand but Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Livingstone Zimuto Chipadza, dismissed the application.

The provincial magistrate however, granted Mufute $600 million bail and ordered him to continue residing at Hartzell Primary School until the matter was finalised.

Mr Chipadza also ordered Mufute who will appear in court on April 23 to report at Old Mutare Police Base every Friday between 6am and 6pm.

The State led by Mr Arnold Chiwara and Mr Oliver Marwa had opposed bail but Mr Chipadza ruled that the delivery of justice must be balanced with the individual’s rights and there was need "to guard against overzealous law enforcement."

Mufute who spent a night in remand prison was remanded in absentia after the Zimbabwe Prisons Service failed to bring inmates to court because of transport problems.

Gonye, Mutanda, Mabhena and Mathe were not formally charged when they briefly appeared before Binga resident magistrate, Mr Stephen Ndlovu who remanded them in custody to April 22.

The prosecutor, Miss Sikhangezile Dube, told the court that the four were polling officers during the harmonised elections and were posted to Binga North and South constituencies.

Allegations are that on March30 Gonye and Mutanda posted wrong senate results for Binga constituency giving the MDC-Tsvangirai candidate more votes.

The State also alleges that Mabhena and Mathe, who are facing two counts of fraud also posted wrong results outside the constituency command centre indicating that the house of Assembly candidate for MDC-Tsvangirai Mr Herbert Sinampande Madolo had polled 16 92 votes instead of 16 493.

It is also the State’s case that the duo posted results indicating that Cde Veronica Munkuli of Zanu-PF had polled 2 794 votes instead of 2 798.

The State is also alleging that the pair posted wrong results for the presidential polls indicating that Morgan Tsvangirai had polled 14 619 instead of 16 221, President Mugabe 2 326 votes instead of 2 386 and Mr Langton Towungana 107 votes instead of 111 votes.

Mpofu is being held in custody after her lawyers Mr Peter Dzimba of Dzimba, Jaravaza and Associates, had their bail application opposed by the prosecutor, Mr Talent Tadenyika.

Mrs Chiwumburu will make her ruling on the application today.

Several other arrests were made in Matabeleland North, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces where ZEC officers are being accused of among other things prejudicing Zanu-PF presidential candidate Cde Mugabe of 4 993 votes.

It’s alleged that the officers altered figures on V11 and V13 forms. The inconsistencies were detected when the forms were scrutinised.

A V11 form is an original document carrying results at polling stations and is signed by all agents of contesting parties.

After the signing of the V11 form, information is then recorded on the V13 forms that collate polling station results within a ward.

But Mutare lawyers Messrs Trust Maanda and Akisayi Dhliwayo who appeared for Mufute queried the authenticity of the V13 form at the centre of controversy arguing that Mufute neither prepared nor signed it.

MDC petition: Ruling on Monday

Court Reporter

HIGH Court judge Justice Tendayi Uchena will deliver judgment in the case in which the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction is seeking an order for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce results of the presidential election on Monday next week.

"Conscious of the urgency of the matter, I should be ready with a judgment on Monday afternoon. Judgment is therefore reserved to Monday at 14:30pm," said Justice Uchena.

"I have heard the parties since Saturday and I need to go over the statute that has been referred to. I also need to digest the submissions by both counsels," he told journalists.

Earlier, ZEC and MDC lawyers had presented their heads of argument.

ZEC lawyer Mr George Chikumbirike argued that it would be "dangerous" for the court to grant an order, which might not be complied with.

Mr Chikumbirike said the court could not make an order that might be impugned, as the hearing of the MDC urgent application continued before Justice Uchena yesterday.

"It would be dangerous to give an order that may not be complied with in view of outside exigencies they (ZEC) are not able to control," he said.

"This is the reason why the Constitution in its wisdom provided that issues of (the) election process are vested within the purview of the commission."

He said the electoral commission had absolute discretion in matters of elections and that was not subject to appeal.

Mr Chikumbirike said in terms of electoral laws, the chief elections officer was mandated to give reasonable notice in writing to each candidate and agents the date, time and place to announce issues dealt with consequent upon instructions from the commission.

This, he said, would be in respect of whether or not to recount and "if so proceed to verify or collate all constituencies returns for the poll".

"Once this process has been done, he (Chief Elections Officer) in the presence of both parties’ representatives add together the number of votes received by each candidate as shown in each constituency returns as may be amended.

"This is to ensure accuracy, transparency in respect of the final count of votes," he said.

He said information on presidential poll results was privileged which ZEC had an entitlement to relate and release.

Mr Chikumbirike said there was no need for the court to order his clients to release the results.

He further told the judge that ZEC was created by the
supreme law of the country and its integrity should not be compromised.

"It is vital and important that the institution’s integrity be preserved and remain independent in terms of the Constitution. It is important that this court respect the principles and provisions of the Constitution that leave the issue entirely at their discretion," said Mr Chikumbirike.

He said to attempt to interfere with the independence of ZEC because of the exigencies currently facing the nation would in the long run create a problem in the commission.

He argued that the relief sought by the opposition party was unreasonable and it should not be granted.

Mr Chikumbirike further argued that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is the applicant in the case, failed to file an affidavit to support the contentions raised by his party.

In his response MDC lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama dismissed ZEC’s assertions that the presidential poll results were privileged information.

Mr Muchadehama said the presidential election results should not be viewed as privileged information when after counting it was published and posted outside polling stations.

He said even if ZEC received complaints it ought to have notified the other party.

"I submit that respondents have not been candid with the court. What was the point to hold the elections in one day when it takes forever to have the results?" he said.

Mr Muchadehama said 11 days had gone by before the presidential election results were announced.

"The spirit of the Electoral Act is that everything should be done with urgency," he said.

‘Zim prepared to appraise Sadc of political developments’

ZIMBABWE is prepared to appraise Sadc of political developments on the ground if need be as it has excellent relations and co-operation with its neighbours, a Government Minister has said.

Responding to Western media reports that Sadc planned to call an extra-ordinary Summit on Zimbabwe over the weekend, Information and Publicity Minister, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said though it was normal procedure that a summit to discuss a member-state should be held at the request of that country, Zimbabwe would appraise the regional bloc of political developments in the wake of the elections.

He said as Government, they wanted to leave electoral matters to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as the constitutional body mandated to deal with electoral matters.

"That’s normal within Sadc community to call for meetings. We are neighbours and that is the spirit of Sadc to meet and consider anything. As far as we are concerned we have not asked for assistance. We are waiting for ZEC to do its work, verifying the results because it should announce the correct results, so we don’t see any problem.

"We have conducted a harmonised election, the first of its kind in the world, it was a mammoth task, Sadc observers were here and more than 300 journalists and western countries have admitted that their predictions of them not being free and fair had been proven wrong."

He said ZEC was in the final stages and should be allowed to complete its work unhindered, as that would be exerting undue pressure on the election body. Cde Ndlovu’s comments came in the wake of Western media reports, yesterday, claiming that Sadc chairman President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia had called a summit to discuss Zimbabwe’s elections at the weekend.

"Given developments immediately following the elections, I have decided as chair of Sadc to call for an extraordinary summit on Saturday 12 April to discuss ways and means of assisting the people of Zimbabwe," AFP quoted Mr Mwanawasa as having said.

AFP quoted Mr Mwanawasa as saying the aim of the summit would be to try and break "the current impasse as well as adopt a co-ordinated approach to the situation in that country".

The MDC-Tsvangirai party, which has previously castigated the region for standing by Zimbabwe, welcomed the prospect of a Sadc summit. The faction’s leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is claiming that he won the presidential elections held talks with new Botswana President Ian Khama where he called on the regional bloc to pressure Zimbabwe.

Although "we all of us know the result, we say we should wait for ZEC to announce it," Tsvangirai was quoted as saying. — AFP-Herald Reporter.


10 April 2008

The African National Congress welcomes the announcement that a summit of SADC leaders is to be held to discuss the current situation in Zimbabwe.

The ANC hopes that the summit will contribute to a resolution of the problems arising from Zimbabwean elections held almost a fortnight ago, and that it will reinforce the SADC guidelines on free and fair elections.

The ANC calls on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the results of the Presidential election as soon as possible. It further calls on all parties to address whatever concerns they may have through the appropriate legal channels.

Issued by:
Jessie Duarte
ANC National Spokesperson

For further information, queries or interview requests contact:
Tiyani Rikhotso 079 879 7974
Steyn Speed 082 572 7304
Vuyisa Manyandela 011 376 1052


Pan-African News Wire said...


Zim ready to discuss crisis

Thu, 10 Apr 2008

Zimbabwe's government downplayed ongoing uncertainty about presidential poll results ahead of an unscheduled meeting of its neighbours on the crisis, state media reported on Thursday.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Zimbabwe was ready to inform the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) of political developments on the ground, during an extraordinary summit called in Zambia on Saturday.

"That's normal within Sadc community to call for meetings. We are neighbours and that is the spirit of Sadc to meet and consider anything," Ndlovu told the state-run Herald newspaper.

"We are waiting for ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) to do its work, verifying the results because it should announce the correct results, so we don't see any problem."

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, chairperson of the 14-nation Sadc, on Wednesday announced he was calling southern African leaders together to "discuss ways and means of assisting the people of Zimbabwe."

International pressure is mounting for Zimbabwe to release the outcome of presidential results, 12days after polling.

The outcome of the parliamentary poll saw President Robert Mugabe lose control of the majority in his worst defeat in 28 years of power.

The winner of the presidency is not yet known as election officials maintain they are still busy collating and verifying votes.

"We have conducted a harmonised election, the first of its kind in the world, it was a mammoth task," said Ndlovu.

"Sadc observers were here and more than 300 journalists and western countries have admitted that their predictions of them not being free and fair had been proven wrong."

Pan-African News Wire said...


Mugabe ready to face peers over crisis

Fanuel Jongwe
Thu, 10 Apr 2008

Zimbabwe's government said on Thursday Robert Mugabe was ready to face regional leaders this weekend over the country's post-election crisis as the wait for results stretched into a 12th day.

Heads of state of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (Sadc) have been called to a summit in Zambia on Saturday in a bid to break the impasse between Mugabe's ruling party and the opposition.

A source in Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa's office told AFP invitations had been issued and Mugabe was fully expected to attend.

Zimbabwe's deputy information minister stopped short of confirming Mugabe's presence in Lusaka but said he was more than happy to brief his peers on the situation in the former British colony.

"If there is a SADC meeting confirmed by Zambia, President Mugabe will definitely be there," the deputy minister Bright Matonga told AFP.

"There is nothing unusual about his attendance. SADC has obviously come under a lot of international pressure over the Zimbabwe elections and needs to be briefed about what is happening here."

Southern Africa has been heavily criticised over its traditional reluctance to criticise Mugabe who has presided over his country's economic demise during his 28-year rule which began with independence in April 1980.

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change was furious when a team of SADC observers gave the 29 March polls a clean bill of health before the results had been announced.

The party has called on the region's leaders to use the summit to call time on Mugabe's tenure, but regional powerhouse South Africa rejected any notion it would do so.

"We are not a government who can ask other presidents to step down," deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad told journalists in Pretoria.

"Nobody will tell us when our president will step down and we will never ever allow a situation that we ask other presidents to step down. On what basis would we do that? Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa."

Pahad refused to confirm South African President Thabo Mbeki's attendance at the SADC summit, but said he would go "if his programme allows."

While the results of a simultaneous parliamentary election were announced more than a week ago, the outcome of the presidential vote in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai took on his 84-year-old rival Mugabe remains a mystery.

Tsvangirai has already claimed to have won enough votes to avoid a second round run-off against Mugabe. The president's party however says a run-off will take place with Mugabe again as its candidate.

The electoral commission says it needs more time to collate and verify the votes, even though the body has already begun dismantling its operations centre in the capital Harare.

While Mugabe has lain low, Tsvangirai has launched a diplomatic drive in recent days, visiting neighbours and pleading for help in forcing the result.

In an interview on Wednesday the opposition leader accused Mugabe of a "de facto military coup," saying he was deploying troops around the country to try to intimidate people ahead of a possible run-off election.

"We'll manage to get Mugabe out. Mugabe is being deserted. No one wants to touch Mugabe in the region now. Eventually, we will ease him out," Tsvangirai told Time magazine.

Opposition hopes that the country's high court would order the electoral commission to announce the results before the summit were dashed when a judge said he would only decide whether to issue such a ruling on Monday.

But Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) has already called for a total recount of the presidential vote and is contesting enough seats to overturn its first ever loss of a parliamentary majority.

Tsvangirai (56), was expected to travel on to Zambia and Mozambique after holding talks Wednesday with new Botswana President Ian Khama.

Mugabe has often bridled at any kind of outside intervention, blaming the country's economic woes on a limited package of Western sanctions imposed after he allegedly rigged his 2002 re-election.

The former British colony now has a six-figure inflation rate and unemployment is beyond 80 percent, while average life expectancy stands at 37 years.

Pan-African News Wire said...


Zim war vets deny farm invasions

Thu, 10 Apr 2008

A leader of Zimbabwe's feared war veterans, hardline supporters of President Robert Mugabe, on Thursday denied the invasion of white-owned farms in the wake of a poll dispute.

"There are no farm invasions in Zimbabwe," national chairperson of the War Veterans Association Jabulani Sibanda told SABC radio.

Sibanda said war veterans had merely gone to investigate claims that whites were preparing to "take back the land" after opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai declared he had won the presidential poll.

President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF has been fanning the flames of the land issue in a bid to discredit Tsvangirai, whom they typecast as a pro-Western stooge planning to resettle the whites.

The Commercial Farmers Union on Wednesday announced that more than 60 farmers had been driven off their land, in a reminder of President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reforms which started in 2000.

"We've got over 60 farmers who have been evicted," Commercial Farmers Union president Trevor Gifford told AFP. "They have been chased away and left everything behind."

Gifford said a first black farmer had also been forced off by the so-called war veterans, pro-Mugabe activists who were at the forefront of the widespread seizure of white farms earlier in the decade.

However Sibanda said "anyone that had been thrown off the land, it is not by war veterans."

"Some went to farms to investigate the groupings of white people. There is no one that has been thrown off their land. War veterans are disciplined."

He warned against white people planning to take back farms given to blacks during the land reforms.

"The people of this country, they are prepared and ready to protect their country if there is an invasion, an invasion of any kind," he said.