Zimbabwe election officials reject poll fraud
Justice George Chiweshe, chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was forced to defend the commission's competency after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) identified discrepancies between voting figures announced at different times after the voting ended on Thursday last week.
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 Commission’s 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.
"This, however, does not mean there was no rigging. We know there was, but we can't pinpoint it at the moment because no-one seems to know. We are clutching at straws, to be honest."
Zanu PF won 78 seats of the 120 contested, with the MDC winning 41, a drop from the 57 they won in 2000. Another seat went to an independent Professor Jonathan Moyo.
Examples of what the MDC alleged was rigging by Zanu PF include the Manyame constituency. The ZEC announced the total votes cast was 14 812. When the results were announced, the MDC candidate had polled 8 312 votes, meaning she had an unassailable lead
But the ZEC said the Zanu PF candidate had received 15 448 votes, with 543 ballots spoilt. This brought the total vote count for the constituency to 24 303, with the discrepancy being 9 491 votes.
ZEC officials are
yet to respond to the discrepancies detailed by the MDC.
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