Rule of law abused

Zimbabwe’s constitution and our rule of law have both been abused to pave the way for fraud. An extract from a detailed report published by outgoing MP David Coltart reveals how the law was broken.

Map shows voter turnout based on the number of registered voters up to May 30, 2013 as ZEC continues to resist releasing the final registration figures. It shows a turnout in Zanu (PF) strongholds of 65% and above, and lower in the south.
Map shows voter turnout based on the number of registered voters up to May 30, 2013 as ZEC continues to resist releasing the final registration figures. It shows a turnout in Zanu (PF) strongholds of 65% and above, and lower in the south.

Illegal proclamation of the election

President Mugabe’s proclamation of the election date was in breach of section 31H of the previous Lancaster House Constitution (which provision was still in force at the time the proclamation was made) in that he did not consult Cabinet before making the declaration as he was obliged to.

Illegal use of the Presidential Powers Act

On June 13, 2013 President Mugabe amended the Electoral Act by means of three Electoral Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instruments 87, 88 and 89 of 2013). He made these amendments in terms of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act. The amendments introduced wide-ranging changes to Zimbabwe’s electoral law and practice.

In doing so he was in breach of Section 157(1) of the Constitution and Section 4(2)(c) of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act itself.

Voter registration exercise

Section 6(3) of the 6th Schedule of the Constitution states that “the Registrar General, under the supervision of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, must conduct a special and intensive voter registration and a voters’ roll inspection exercise for at least 30 days after the publication of the new Constitution).

This provision was very seriously breached by the Registrar General of Voters in the Bulawayo East Constituency and elsewhere in the country.

The Registrar General located insufficient numbers of registration centres in urban areas, they were often located at remote sites (such as Lochview School) and processing of applications was extraordinarily slow. This has resulted countrywide in tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of citizens effectively being disenfranchised.

Freedom of expression and the media

Sections 61(4)(b) and (c) of the Constitution state that all “State owned media of communication” must be “impartial” and afford a “fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions”.

There are no independent radio and television stations in Zimbabwe. The only television station is the state-owned ZBC. Although there are two nominally independent radio stations, namely Star FM and ZiFM, the former is owned by the Zimpapers Group and the latter is owned by Supa Mandiwanzira the Zanu (PF) candidate for Nyanga South.

The ZBC news bulletins were blatantly partisan for the entire electoral period.

Biased application of Electoral Act

Section 152 of the Electoral Act states that “from the date on which an election is called until its result is declared, no person shall deface or remove any billboard, placard or poster published, posted or displayed by a political party or candidate contesting the election”.

There were repeated accusations of Zanu (PF) instances nationwide where Zanu (PF) supporters removed opposition posters and replaced them with campaign material for Zanu (PF).

Whilst it is no doubt the right and necessity of the ZRP to thoroughly investigate an allegation that the Electoral Act has been breached, this must be done fairly and impartially.

Voter’s roll sham

Zimbabwe’s Electoral Act obliges the ZEC to supply both contesting parties and candidates with copies of both paper and electronic copies of the voters roll. Access to the voters roll is arguably the most important right in any democratic election.

Despite repeated requests made in writing and verbally none of the parties in opposition to Zanu (PF) were supplied with an electronic copy of the voters’ roll as is their right prior to the election or at all. Indeed, there is still no sign of the electronic voters’ roll.

Police presence

The Electoral Act makes it clear that the roll of the Police is solely confined to keeping order at polling stations.

Section 62 is even stronger in that it makes it clear that during the counting process the Police are to play no role whatsoever and are not even meant to be in the room where the counting takes place.

Policemen are not “polling officers”. Their job is solely to maintain law and order. Accordingly during the voting process they are not meant to interfere in any way with the voting and should not be gathering information. The only other role allowed for policemen is to assist illiterate voters to vote in terms of Section 59 of the Electoral Act if such illiterate voters do not have anyone they would like to assist them.

Despite these clear provisions of the law police officers were heavily involved in the process in every single polling station in Bulawayo East. In all 39 polling stations the MDC election agents reported that police throughout the day got voting figures from the Presiding Officer and then communicated the same by cell phone or radio to some central Police command.

The ramifications regarding the integrity of the vote in remote rural polling stations are obvious. If the Police played such an active, brazen and illegal role in Bulawayo East when they were so closely observed then it is safe to assume that they would have played an even more intrusive role in the process in rural constituencies.

The bottom line is that the Police clearly have no role or right to record votes cast or to be present during the count and their actions in this regard alone constitute a profound breach of the law.

Post published in: News

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