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Comment & analysis

CCJPZ calls for release of election results

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe

2008-04-08, Issue 360

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It is now more than a full week since the historic harmonised elections took place on 29 March 2008 but there has been near deafening silence about the outcome of the flagship election, the presidential contest. The results of the House of Assembly and Senate elections were also released at a painfully slow pace. This has understandably generated a hive of rumours, speculation, fears and nervousness among the stakeholders, and in the nation and international community. At the centre of the mystery is the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), a constitutional body mandated to conduct elections and referendums “efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.” It is the CCJP’s understanding that this mandate includes but is not restricted to ensuring that the results of the elections are made public to the contesting parties and to the nation as a whole as expeditiously as possible, that is, within reasonable time.

The rumours and nervous speculation swirling around the presidential election results and the mystery surrounding ZEC’s reluctance to speedily release those results has the effect of producing unnecessary suspicions that ZEC is being manipulated to produce results at variance with the verdict of the people. This is unfortunate if only because there does not appear to be any compelling reason for the inordinate delay in releasing the results. This delay is stretching the patience of the people to the limit to the point where ZEC appears to be abusing the legendary patience of the Zimbabwe people.

We have previously noted with considerable satisfaction that ZEC managed to conduct what to many objective observers has been one of the most free and fair elections since independence though there were still many flaws and lapses. The integrity of the election body is now seriously under threat because of its disinclination to quickly make the results public and allay the fears and suspicions of the nation. If ZEC has the public interest and is not driven by partisan interests, then it surely should release the results without any further equivocation. The inordinate delay is a recipe for distrust, political tension and even instability. ZEC must not only act impartially and honestly, it must be seen to be respecting these cardinal values. So far, and with respect to the snail’s pace at which the results were announced and the apparent reluctance to release the presidential election results, ZEC is failing the test. The autonomy and professionalism of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have been seriously eroded and deeply compromised, reinforcing accusations of embedded partisanship and bias. In the event of a re-run of the presidential election, Zimbabweans and the international community now have grave doubts about the fairness and impartiality of ZEC to conduct the poll.

The CCJP joins the domestic and international community in urging ZEC, in the interest of peace and the search for justice, to urgently release and publicise the results of the presidential election held on March 29, 2008. Many Zimbabweans are anxiously waiting for these results; and they deserve and have a right to know. CCJPZ will continue to observe the post election period countrywide and produce reports.

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