Zimbabwe election officials reject poll fraud
Posted: Friday, April 15, 2005
By Staff Reporters, newzimbabwe.com
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Last updated: 04/07/2005 13:36:11
"In the first announcement made after polling had ended, Justice Chiweshe read out voting figures from the 120 constituencies. However, when the results started coming in, it emerged that more people appeared to have voted per constituency more than had earlier been announced.
But facing the world media for the first time after the controversy, Justice Chiweshe poured scorn on the rigging claims. In fact, according to Chiweshe, the initial announcement of voters per constituency was for the voting patterns up to 2pm on the voting day.
He said: "(I indicated at the time that) figures quoted in any update that the commission may give are not necessarily a reflection of facts on the ground. The figures were given without prejudice and only for the purposes of giving indications as to the turnout trends in various provinces and constituencies.
"I further indicated that correct and official statistics would be known after the constituency results. Notwithstanding that explanation, certain quarters have taken it upon themselves to misinform and mislead the public that there is a discrepancy between figures given in the update and the final figures as reflected in constituency results, and that because of such discrepancies irregularities had occured.
"The correct position is that there is only one set of figures to be considered, and only one process to be examined -- these are the figures counted at each polling station and authenticated by presiding officers and party agents under the watchful eyes of monitors and observers.
"These figures (which are the official figures) were transmitted to constituency centres where they were collated by constituency election officers, again in the presence of party agents, monitors and observers.
"Once that process was completed and authenticated, the figures would then be transmitted to the national results centre for announcement by the chief election officer, constituency by constituency.
"These are the official figures by which the results of the election were determined. There are no other figures that come to play. Therefore, the question of inconsistencies does not arise. That, in a nutshell, is the position of the commission. This position is vindicated by the constituency results that we made public at the time," said Justice Chiweshe.
Meanwhile, a week after the election ended, Chiweshe said his commission had not yet received a single complaint from any contesting candidate. In a jibe aimed at the MDC, Chiweshe said his commission would not act on "complaints raised through the media".
Chiweshe's announcement came hours after an MDC official told New Zimbabwe.com: "We are clutching at straws."
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi had released widely-publicised details of discrepancies between the number of people said to have voted in each constituency by election officials, and the final voting figures for each candidate.
In over 30 constituencies, the MDC said deficits between the Zimbabwe Electoral Commissionís official pronouncement on the number of votes cast and the final total directly accounted for the Zanu PF 'victories'.
But a senior MDC official told this website that the party's polling agents had checked their figures, against the results announced by the ZEC, and the numbers TALLIED."
"It is not true that the Mugabe government "essentially runs all media outlets in Zimbabwe." True, the sole television station is state-owned, although private stations from neighboring South Africa can be seen. There are privately-owned radio stations, and privately-owned newspapers outnumber state-owned. With the exception of the Daily Mirror, all of these newspapers are rabidly anti-government and the level of vituperation heaped upon the government in these papers rivals that of privately-owned media in Venezuela.
Election officers were not appointed by the Mugabe government. The five members of the commission were appointed by Parliament, with input from both ZANU-PF and the MDC. President Mugabe was responsible for choosing only the president of the commission.
Zimbabwe fully implemented the SADC electoral standards, and was among the first nations of the region to put these into effect. The new electoral laws were worked out in Parliament, including the adoption of several amendments submitted by the opposition MDC, such as the use of indelible ink.
Ten percent of voters were turned away because they either had failed to bring proper identification or they had reported to the wrong district (presumably many of them later in the day ended up at the proper voting place). Observer teams noted that this problem was due to insufficient efforts at voter education and that it affected both parties equally.
It is not true that Mugabeís supporters killed hundreds of opponents in the 2002 election. In all, a total of 58 people were killed, and this included both ZANU-PF supporters killing MDC and MDC-supporters killing ZANU-PF. Too many, to be sure, but considerable progress was made at subduing the hotheads on both sides, and by all accounts the election went off peacefully."
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