Mugabe wants poll re-run, results may never be known
Zanu PF has appealed the results of 16 parliamentary seats from the March 29 elections, and at least five ZEC officials have been arrested, accused of “fraud” and “criminal abuse of duty” for allegedly reducing Mugabe’s votes after counting finished.
Zanu PF has also demanded a recount of the presidential ballots in a strategy which insiders are calling “Triple R” for recount, rerun and run-off – in that order. A run-off with Tsvangirai, the insiders say, is now being seen as a last option which is to be avoided.
The idea, Zanu PF insiders told The New Zimbabwe this week, is to “throw sufficient mud at the electoral process” so as to force the electoral commission to accept that there has been “systematic irregularities”, and order a re-run, instead of a run-off which would be the result if ZEC announces results which show both Tsvangirai and Mugabe below the 50 percent threshold.
As the MDC took the ZEC to court on Wednesday this week, demanding an immediate release of results, ZEC was dismantling its command centre based at a Harare hotel, raising fears that results of the presidential election would never be known, and an announcement of a re-run – possibly months away – is imminent.
Professor Jonathan Moyo, a respected political analyst and a former government minister now one of Mugabe’s leading critics said the ZEC, as a constitutional body, could order an election re-run, but once the results were released, that would become the prerogative of the Electoral Court.
“Zanu PF will not favour a run-off when the option of a re-run is available. Mugabe can use his Presidential Powers to push a re-run back by several months, whereas a run-off has a constitutional requirement that it must be held 21 days from the last election,” said Moyo, the only independent MP in Zimbabwe’s new parliament. “It also means Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana, the two other candidates in the presidential race, will be back to have a second bite at the cherry and divisions remain in the opposition.”
Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF's secretary for administration and the outgoing State Security Minister who virtually remains in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) detailed to New Zimbabwe.com what he claimed was a plot by the MDC, and unnamed agents from Canada, to rig the elections through bribing ZEC officials, some of whom have been arrested.
Mutasa said investigations had uncovered “so much rigging” that it would be unwise for the ZEC to announce results of the presidential elections – an admission that Zanu PF officials had leaned on the ZEC to hold the presidential results.
“How can they release wrong results? The irregularities are so obvious,” Mutasa said, accusing ZEC officials of being “infiltrated”.
Mutasa said it had been discovered that after voting, and votes were displayed outside polling stations, some officials had gone on to tweak with the election data which was passed on to the command centre in Harare. This process, he said, involved reducing Mugabe’s votes.
One other irregularity uncovered, Mutasa said, was the use of the same identity particulars for an individual voter at five polling stations in each ward. He said this happened in several constituencies.
“There were five polling stations in each ward,” Mutasa said. “A voter’s name would, therefore, be displayed at those five stations. But we had situations where after voting, individuals would take their identity cards and pass them to people who were never registered to vote at all the other stations in that ward. So you had one individual effectively voting five times.
“There was so much rigging, God forbid, I had no idea these men and women (MDC) could do such a thing. Not only do they do that, they hire agents from Canada to assist them. That’s the truth, we don’t tell lies like everybody else.”
Mutasa, ostensibly speaking after seeing intelligence reports, said the officials now charged with fraud had travelled to South Africa where they were “taught” the various rigging mechanisms by unnamed individuals from Canada whom he claimed were on the pay of the MDC.
The MDC rejects the claims and says Zanu PF wants to divert attention from growing international pressure to release the results of the presidential elections.
The MDC, formed in 1999, says its own data shows Tsvangirai got 50,3 percent of the total votes cast, making him a clear winner, although doubt has been cast on that figure by independent election monitoring groups.
A Zanu PF insider said: “We are working on the extreme assumption that a recount will show President Mugabe as the winner in this election. If that fails, we are sure we can paint a picture of a severely flawed process, and convince the ZEC to declare the election null and void, and immediately order a re-run.
“Everyone else is focused on a run-off; but we are gearing for a re-run.”
World leaders, led
by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the United States government,
have urged more pressure on Mugabe to release the election results.
The calls for action have been dampened by African leaders who say the
situation is still “manageable”.
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