Monday, April 07, 2008

Presidential results: High Court joins the delay game

Nine days after the historic presidential election in Zimbabwe on March 29, the result has not been released and it may never be.

After a promising election process that was remarkable for its peaceful conduct, Zimbabweans and the entire world expected an equally orderly counting process and everybody expected that by now there would be a duly elected president ready to be inaugurated on Independence Day, April 18.

Instead, the world has watched in disbelief as the army-led Zimbabwe Electoral Commission dilly-dallies with the results.

Electoral rules stipulate that a maximum of six days is allowed for the announcement of results and ZEC met that stipulation only in relation to the senate, parliamentary and council elections that were conducted concurrently with the all important presidential poll.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has declared himself the winner over long-time national leader, President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF and two independents, former minister, Simba Makoni and political upstart, Langton Towungana.

Tsvangirai based his declaration on figures tabulated and released by his party (from results posted outside polling stations) and those collected by the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network. Those results put Tsvangirai’s tally at 50.3% against Mugabe’s 43.8%.

If those results are correct, they put Tsvangirai above the 50% plus one vote stipulation to win the election. There are reasons to believe the results are correct. ZEC and Zanu PF are not disputing them. Instead, ZEC has continued to postpone announcing its own totals while Mugabe and his party have called for a recount and are preparing themselves for a re-run.

MDC has appealed to the High Court to compel ZEC to release the results. The High Court has also joined the delay game. On Sunday Justice Uchena said he would decide on Monday if the case can be heard. On Monday he determined that, yes, he could hear the case but will determine on Tuesday if it is urgent or not. So, the game continues.

Meanwhile, Mugabe and his party have revved up their campaign for a second round, even though none has been declared. War veterans have been reactivated and there are reports of fresh farm invasions. The opposition alleges that the army has stepped up recruitment and Zanu PF youths (Green Bombers) are being reactivated.

The government propaganda machinery is working overtime to incite Zimbabweans with stories of white farmers returning to “forcibly occupy their former land” and allegations that the opposition is planning to hand over the economy to whites.

The international community seems powerless, reduced to making the feeble noises of “release the results now”. Noises that fall flat on Mugabe’s “hard to hear” ears.

South Africa, ever the prop on which Mugabe stands against international condemnation, repeats the mantra “let’s all be calm and wait for the results”.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans have gone back to their miserable lives, invoking their various gods to intervene SOON.