This is just a Farce

Here we are - three weeks after the election and they are still refusing to say who won the ballot for the post of President. The reasons are obvious - Morgan won and they just cannot work out how to handle the situation. They know the result and are trying to avoid the inevitable consequences of making it public. Had Mugabe won, they would have been crowing 24 hours after the election!

When the polls closed on the 29th March counting was done at each polling station and the results posted on the doors of the polling stations in the form of a copy of the form V11 that recorded the result of the count and from then onwards provided the legal basis of the final tally. While the final results of the local government, House of Assembly and Senate seats were determined locally in each electoral district; the presidential poll was tabulated at a national control center in Harare.

The results of each election were duly announced within 48 hours in all electoral districts with the exception of the presidential one, which was national. This final tally was started on Tuesday morning when all the results from all electoral districts had been communicated to the national control center. This was done as required by the law, the 4 Chief Election Agents for the four candidates sat at a table with the ZEC officials on the other side and they scrutinized the results for each electoral district working by Province.

Harare and Bulawayo came and went - all were reasonably satisfied as the results of ZEC were more or less in line with our own records taken by polling agents at the polling stations. Then they started Mashonaland Central. When the MDC team saw the figures and noted that they were completely different from the results for the Cities (very high voter turnouts, in one case exceeding the numbers of voters on the voters roll), they stopped the verification and counting process.

The MDC CEA said to the ZEC officials that he wanted to see the original V11 forms for every polling station - over 9000 of them. He went further and said that the MDC had photographed the V11 forms at each station and had a record of the poll. He said that their count was to the effect that Morgan had won by 50,3 percent and he said that he expected ZEC to disprove that figure. That was the start of the problems.

ZEC then spent the next three days getting all the forms into Harare and by Friday this process was complete. They did not start the verification process but instead did a count behind closed doors and in complete secrecy. Even the Commissioners and Candidates were excluded from the process. By Monday they had a final result - it showed well over 50 per cent for Morgan Tsvangirai and this information was promptly leaked to the MDC.

They then put the damage control system into high gear. The ZEC center was closed down and the whole operation including all records moved to a secret location. When this location was discovered, military guards barred people who tried to get to the new center - it was a 'high security area' they were told. Publicly the only information released by the ZEC at this time was that the results were 'sensitive' and disclosure was not in the 'public interest'.

Then the ZEC came out with a spurious claim that Zanu PF candidates had lodged appeals against the results in 25 constituencies. This they said justified the ZEC conducting a recount of the 25 electoral districts to discover what mistakes had been made in the count. Remember in all of these districts the results had already been announced by ZEC and made public on the television and radio. By law such appeals had to be lodged within 48 hours - it was now 10 days since the election.

It was clear to the MDC that this was a blatant effort to overturn its Parliamentary majority and to distort the presidential vote. We went to court to stop the recount, which in our view was both illegal and unconstitutional. We won the case but ZEC has insisted that it will go ahead with the recount and has scheduled this for 23 constituencies for this coming Saturday - 3 weeks after the election itself and 11 days after they had confirmed that Morgan had won the election by a wide margin.

Then came the SADC summit - Mbeki was able to bulldoze his way to get a resolution that basically endorsed the stance taken by ZEC, even though it was patently obvious that the whole process was illegal. Behind the scenes he tried to engineer a situation where he would negotiate between the parties to the 'dispute' and arrange a government of national unity in a manner similar to what has been negotiated in Kenya. MDC would never accede to such duplicity and countenance a deal with Zanu PF. and that initiative fell flat on its face.

Right now a full-blown diplomatic storm is taking place as clearly shown in the Security Council debate last night. Mbeki personally chaired the Council and it was a massacre for him. He tried to keep Zimbabwe off the agenda and instead it totally dominated the discussions as leader after leader hammered away at the illegality of what was happening and the serious nature of this sort of behavior, subverting as it does, the whole electoral process and democracy in Africa as a whole.

Just as importantly, at the international Parliamentary Forum in Cape Town, many speakers alluded to the crisis in Zimbabwe. One said that Africa had to define what it meant by democracy and to decide if this sort of blatant abuse of democratic process was acceptable. It was called a threat to the stability and security of Africa as a whole - a very serious charge and one that is absolutely true.

While all of this was going on, Zanu PF was making its own plans and they did not in any way include adhering to anything the outside world said, including the SADC resolutions. They planned to rig the recount and this was put into action using military bases and compliant officials. Then, in anticipation of a result that would give them a Parliamentary majority and reduce Morgan's vote to less than 50 per cent, they are planning a campaign for the re-run.

We have new intelligence that it is their intention to delay the announcement of the results of the election until the 6th or 7th of May and to then target the 26th May for the re-run. This sleight of hand will give them eight clear weeks to implement their 'election programme' called 'where did you vote?' They have deployed commanders to all electoral districts together with militia who have been armed and are paid special allowances. These irregular forces are now unleashing a reign of terror on the rural population. Hundreds are being beaten and their homes burned. A number of people have already been killed. Food is being tightly controlled and we can expect traditional leaders to be co-opted or abused.

Of particular concern is a consignment of arms from China that has been held off Durban by the South African authorities for three days now and contains a large consignment of arms and ammunition destined for Zimbabwe. The South Africans are holding this up because its documentation was not in order. They do not say they will block its delivery. That we are buying arms when we cannot feed our people is a disgrace. That China can supply this rogue regime arms with which to suppress the people of Zimbabwe is a demonstration of their willingness to support such regimes.

Plans are afoot to rig the re-run and to restrict the ability of the urban voters to cast their votes. The media is under even tighter control and MDC leaders are being specifically targeted. They will again use the threat that if we do not vote for Mugabe in the runoff, they will 'go back to the bush'. Today they said that Morgan's recent actions were consistent with 'treason'. Closer to home two activists who were caught distributing MDC pamphlets in Bulawayo were today jailed for 8 months. What a travesty of justice in any language.

Eddie Cross
17th April 2008