Clear poll win unlikely – experts

Zimbabwe's next president would have to win the forthcoming presidential election by a 51 percent majority, raising high prospects of an election re-run by two leading candidates.

Electoral experts said the likelihood of an election run-off after the March 29 vote were very high and predicted that none of the three main candidates could out rightly garner a 51 percent majority because of the current neck-and-neck race for State House.

The Nomination Court last Friday duly accepted nomination papers from four candidates who will fight the presidential poll. The candidates are President Robert Mugabe of the ruling Zanu (PF) party, Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and two independent candidates, Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana. But the real contest would be between Makoni, Tsvangirai and Mugabe.

Legal experts said in the context of a four-candidate contest, section 110 of the Electoral Act becomes relevant.

“It states that the successful candidate in a Presidential poll must receive a majority of the total number of valid votes cast’, that is, at least 50 percent plus one of the valid votes cast,” said an electoral assessment by legal service Veritas.  “If that does not occur, a second run-off election must be held within 21 days, in which only the two candidates who performed best in the first round will participate.  If the second election results in a tie, Parliament must sit as an electoral college to decide between the two candidates, by secret ballot and without debate.”

Experts say it was highly unlikely that any of the three main presidential candidates could garner a 51 percent majority.

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