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This article participates on the following special index pages:
2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
to SADC heads of state from civil society organizations
Zimbabwe Civil Society Organisations
April 03, 2008
delay in announcing results is of grave concern to civil society
We the undersigned
Civil Society groups whose names are listed below have found it
necessary to send this urgent petition to your Excellences in order
to save our country from potentially sinking into complete anarchy
if election results are manipulated.
On 29th March,
2008 the people of Zimbabwe voted for the national president, members
of parliament and councillors.
took place against the background of a serious political and economic
crisis in the country, which has lasted for a decade. After brazen
use of organized violence and torture of political opponents as
Zimbabwe approached the 2008 election year, the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) facilitated negotiations between the
government and the opposition to end Zimbabwe 's crisis so that
Zimbabweans can once again live in dignity.
Mbeki of South Africa who was mandated by SADC to lead the dialogue
stated clearly that his aspiration was that the March 2008 elections
needed to be held in circumstances where the outcome of such elections
would not be contestable. Even though the negotiations collapsed
before reaching their final conclusion, there were some changes
in the electoral laws that resulted in visible changes on the ground
in terms of the election management process as follows:
- The accreditation
of journalists was smoother and earlier than in previous elections
even though the government erred in being selective on whom it
invited to observe.
- There were
less queues at polling stations and it looked like the majority
of those who wanted to vote and whose names were on the voter's
roll managed to vote without undue delays or major hassles.
- The general
environment inside the polling station and around the polling
station was not hostile unlike in previous elections where cases
of harassment of local observers were reported. In this election
there have been few reports of intimidation or harassment of human
rights defenders during the election day and the period immediately
- The counting
and posting of results at the polling stations for all to see
was very well received and ordinary people could be seen in numbers
studying the results posted at the polling stations.
There were however
some areas of concern as well. These will be enumerated in due course
as various organizations do their individual and collective election
reports as necessary. However the biggest concern that has emerged
is the inordinate delay in the announcing of the election results.
The counting was done immediately after the polls were shut generally
around 7 pm on 28 March 2008 at the polling stations. The results
were posted at the polling stations immediately and there is significant
concern at the failure of the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)
to announce these results more than 36 hours after the voting stopped.
There seems to be absolutely no justification for this delay and
the tokenistic announcement of results for 109 contested positions
by 8am on 1 April 2008 is wholly inadequate.
We as Civil
Society are concerned by the failure to announce the results timeously.
This creates a founded suspicion in the minds of Zimbabweans that
the authorities are trying to manipulate the results in order to
get their preferred party candidates to win. This is especially
so given that the opposition has already been expressing public
concern at what they saw as measures that were being taken to manipulate
the vote and rig the elections.
if it persist will result in the real likelihood of the outcome
of the elections being contested and in the process undermining
what ever small gains may have arisen from the SADC efforts. We
are naturally gravely concerned that any contestation of the outcome
of the elections is also likely to lead to escalation of conflict.
With the weak rule of law environment that has been well documented
before, the elections may trigger serious and potentially widespread
violations of human rights in Zimbabwe .
We are aware
that the Zimbabwean government has already deployed police, army
and intelligence units into the major cities in anticipation of
potential trouble. Of significant concern are the unconfirmed rumours
that allegedly from the security branches of government that the
incumbent is preparing to declare a state of emergency after announcing
inaccurate results. This is consistent with the threats by the security
chiefs before the elections that they are not prepared to accept
the election results if President Mugabe and ZANU PF lose the elections.
We the Civil
Society Organisations from Zimbabwe therefore implore the SADC and
AU heads of State and Government to urgently:
- Exert the
necessary diplomatic pressure to force President Mugabe to ensure
that the elections are as free and fair as possible.
- Demand that
President Mugabe and his government should allow the elections
results to be released immediately without being tampered with.
- Exert the
necessary diplomatic pressure to President Mugabe not to declare
a state of emergency.
- Apply pressure
on the military and intelligence in Zimbabwe not to manipulate
the elections results and to accept the peoples verdict in the
- Call for
SADC in conjunction with other international and domestic observers
to investigate allegations of fraud, so that the ZEC announced
results may be correlated with independent tabulation processes.
- That SADC
together with the African Union should be prepared to urgently
engage in a process to assist in resolving any dispute that may
arise if the results of the elections are seriously contested
- particularly since the domestic electoral courts process is
itself not seen as legitimate by all but the ruling party.
Dated this 1
April 2008 by the undersigned Civil Society Organizations
For more information
contact MISA Zimbabwe
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