Opposition takes ZEC to court

LAWYERS representing the Movement for Democratic Change yesterday filed a High Court application to compel the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce the results of the presidential poll which was held last weekend.


The application comes in the wake of the commission’s failure to announce the presidential results by Wednesday afternoon as had been demanded by the opposition lawyers in a letter to the commission’s chairman Justice George Chiweshe.
In the letter, the MDC through their lawyers Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni wrote to the ZEC threatening to take legal action against the regulatory body for the delay in announcing results for the presidential election.
 “On behalf of our clients we therefore demand, as it is their right to access such information, that you announce the latest tally of results in the presidential election by not later 14.00hrs this afternoon (Wednesday), failing which our clients shall be forced to take further steps to protect their interests without further notice to yourselves,” said the lawyers in the letter.
The lawyers said their client’s understanding is that all polling station returns were compiled at the same time and transmitted at the same time in respect of all four elections.
“It is not feasible for you to say (you are) in possession of the House of Assembly election results and fail to have the results for all the other elections,” wrote the lawyers. “With respect, these results were transmitted at the same time.”
The lawyers informed the ZEC of their wish to know how the election results for the four elections were transmitted from the polling stations to their several destinations.
“Our client is therefore of the considered view that the current announcement of House of Assembly results is a mere dilatory technique being employed by yourselves to mystify the whole process announcing the winner, if any, of the presidential election. Whatever it is that you seek to achieve by such delay is best known to yourselves but it is surely holding the nation at ransom given that so much interest has been generated in the elections and every one is eagerly awaiting such announcement.”
Meanwhile a coalition of 18 civil societies in Zimbabwe has petitioned the African Union and Southern African Development Community heads of state to exert pressure on the ZEC to release the presidential election results.
The coalition includes Crisis Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Save Zimbabwe Campaign, and the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
“We the civil society organisations from Zimbabwe therefore implore the Sadc and AU heads of state and government to urgently demand that President Mugabe and his government should allow the  elections results to be released immediately without being tampered  with,” reads the petition. The civil societies said they want the AU and Sadc heads of state to exert the necessary diplomatic pressure to force Mugabe to ensure that the elections are as free and fair as possible.
The coalition said the delay could result in the outcome of the elections being contested.
“This delay, if it persists, will result in the real likelihood of the outcome of the elections being contested and in the process undermining whatever small gains may have arisen from the Sadc efforts,” said the coalition.
Sadc together with the African Union was implored by the coalition to be prepared to urgently engage in a process to assist in resolving any dispute that may arise if the results of the elections are seriously contested and to investigate allegations of fraud, so that the ZEC-announced results may be correlated with independent tabulation processes.

By Lucia Makamure