Announce election results in 24 hrs: ZESN

When Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai beat President Robert Mugabe by garnering 47, 9 percent of the 2008 presidential poll, against Mugabe’s 43, 2 percent, most people thought he had won.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Morgan Tsvangirai

But a little-known section of the electoral law soon became the most talked-about subject in the country – and a bloody run-off poll a few months later was the result. Zimbabwean law stipulates that the person to be declared winner of a presidential election must have 50 percent of the votes – plus one. This defines a majority.

The Electoral Amendment Bill, 2011, is currently before Parliament. A number of proposals have been put forward on how to improve the legal framework ahead any future elections.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has proposed that, in the case of a run-off, the winner should be decided by the masses even if it takes more than one election to get a clear winner.

“Where there is a tie in the run-off election, the current Bill requires that the election of the President be decided by an electoral college of MPs in Parliament. It is recommended that this requirement be changed so that the power be retained in the hands of the voters rather than Parliament. So if there is a tie, a new election must be held until a clear winner is found,” said ZESN.

The period following the February 2008 elections was characterized by political violence mostly in areas that were previously Zanu (PF) strongholds but had shifted their affiliation to the MDC T. Armed forces and youth militia were unleashed on civilians. Many lives were lost, forcing MDC T leader Morgan Tsvangirai to pull out of the race.

Although the Bill sets out special mechanisms for preventing or handling cases of political violence, ZESN has warned that selective application of the law is a potential problem.

“It should also be recognized that intimidation can be psychological. There must be specific prohibition of public statements by senior state officials who are not contesting elections where such statements are made with the intention to or reckless as to whether they would influence the outcome of an election,” says ZESN.

One of the major issues of the 2008 elections was the lengthy delay in announcing the final results – almost three months after the day the polls were closed.

The latest recommendations are that the presidential election results should be announced within five days of closing polling. But ZESN argues that it should be done within 24 hours.

Post published in: News

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