The Zimbabwean Electoral Commission has been moved to a secret location and is now subject to national security.
from our correspondent in Harare
It is understood the state-run electoral body, which is in possession of the presidential ballot papers, was moved late on Tuesday.
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and independent Simba Makoni, both of whom ran against President Robert Mugabe on March 29, have been denied access to the electoral commission team and have been unable to find out where it has been moved.
“Simba asked that some of his team be allowed access to the commission, but he was refused,” Kudzai Mdudazi, a member of Makoni’s team said.
The MDC was told that it did “not have the right to be present” for
the final count of the presidential votes. This was now a “state secret of
national security”, the party was told.
Until Tuesday, the electoral commission had been using Rainbow Towers here, site of the former Sheraton Hotel.
There had been signs that its operations were being wound down.
“If the verification process is done in private, then nothing they say at
this stage can have any credibility as the results will have been so heavily diluted,” Mdudazi said.
Other sources think the regime’s resorting to such extreme measures suggests desperation in Mugabe’s camp.
“Mugabe must have gone down badly if this is what they are doing,”
said one. The source believes there will be a run-off, but is unable to say when. “Zanu-PF will take as much time as they want,” he said.
Yesterday former justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said the ruling
party’s tallies of the results showed a run-off would be necessary
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
“None of the candidates has been able to secure (the number of votes)
required to avoid a run-off.”
Meanwhile, in the first direct regional intervention over Zimbabwe’s
election deadlock, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he had
called the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting for
Saturday because of “deepening problems” in Harare.
Concern has mounted among Zimbabwe’s neighbours because no final
result has been announced yet from the March 29 poll, dashing hope of
quick action to turn round a ruined economy that has sent millions of
refugees fleeing to surrounding countries.
MDC, which urged SADC to ask Mugabe to step down, says the Zimbabwean leader is prolonging the delay while he plans a violent response to his biggest defeat since taking power in 1980.
SADC has been criticised in the past for failing to pressure Mugabe
despite the economic collapse in Zimbabwe, now suffering the world’s
highest hyper-inflation, chronic shortages of food and fuel and a
near worthless currency.
Mwanawasa’s summit call came after Jacob Zuma, leader of South
Africa’s ruling African National Congress, said the results must be
released, signalling a new more robust reaction than President Thabo
Mbeki who favours “quiet diplomacy”
Mwanawasa briefly broke ranks with other African leaders last year
when he called Zimbabwe a “sinking Titanic” before getting back in
line under pressure.