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Zimbabwe’s murky election waters

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In Zimbabwe, it’s been 25 days since we voted, and we still don’t have any presidential results. In my part of Harare, it’s been five days since some electrical wires short circuited, and we still don’t have any power. Never mind Bev’s idea for a soothing Radox bath to ease my troubled mind. No power means no hot water, so my ablutions have been sorely compromised. I’m fed up. And I smell bad.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has no answers as to when power might be restored. But at least they’re not making any excuses – unlike the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The latest reason why we don’t have any presidential results is that, presumably, they’re conducting recounts in 23 constituencies. Never mind that, legally, you’re not supposed to do recounts until after the results have been announced. In which case, why are they recounting presidential ballots, as well as local government, House of Assembly, and Senate papers.

And never mind the non-transparency with which these recounts have been organised. Again, legally, a recount may be requested by a contesting party within 48 hours of when the results were announced, or it may be requested by ZEC within an unspecified time period. (Though the fact that this time period is unspecified seems to be more an error of misparagraphing by the drafters of the law, than a deliberate provision of the legislation).

There is no record of political parties having requested recounts in 23 constituencies within the stipulated 48 hour period. The state has been trying to cover up this violation by claiming that ZEC requested the recount. This claim is substantiated by ZEC’s General Notice announcing the recounts. But it has been undermined by Zanu PF’s own Pravda, The Herald newspaper, which claims that 21 of the recounts were requested by Zanu PF, and 2 by the MDC.

Oh, and never mind that these recounts are taking inordinately long – days longer than it took to count the votes in the first place. So far, they’ve only announced the results of one recount – Goromonzi West. This resulted in a whopping one vote gain for Zanu PF in the House of Assembly, and no substantive change in the party which won this seat (Zanu PF).

But hey. We’re just citizens. And it’s just legislation. Who are we to demand that it be followed? At this rate, we may as well not even have an Electoral Act, for as flagrantly as it is being violated.

Meanwhile, the delay seems to be primarily an excuse by Zanu PF to buy time, whilst they launch their campaign of retributive violence against those who had the temerity to support the MDC.

The whole thing is about as filthy and murky as my bath water will be whenever I can finally climb into the tub.

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