Heads of state and government of Southern African Development Community (SADCC) have called for the “expeditious” release of the results from Zimbabwe’s presidential election, held 29 March.
The SADC chairperson, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, called an extraordinary summit of the organisation to discuss Zimbabwe’s post-election crisis.
The meeting which last 13 hours began here Saturday – but ran deep into the night – only ending at about 0400 GMT Sunday with a call for the immediate release of the results in accordance with the due process of law.
The summit was referring not only to the delays in the announcement of the presidential result, but to the demands by the ruling ZANU-PF that the votes be recounted in 22 constituencies.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) regards this as simply a manoeuvre to reverse the parliamentary result, which for the first time deprived ZANU-PF of its majority in the lower house.
If, through the contested recount, ZANU-PF obtains another nine seats, that will restore its overall majority in parliament.
The MDC fears that fraud has been prepared, pointing out that ZANU-PF has now had two weeks in which to stuff the ballot boxes to produce a result more to its liking.
The SADC leaders, while making no reference to allegations of foul play, were careful to spell out precisely what they meant by “due process of law”.
The count (and recounts) must be transparent, and vouched for by all parties concerned.
“The verification and counting must be done in the presence of candidates and/or their agents, if they so wish, who must all sign the authenticity of such verification and counting”, declared the summit statement.
SADC would also send its own election observers “who would be present throughout such verification and counting”.
Should the count show a need for a run-off in the presidential election (if no c andidate has won more than 50 per cent of the vote), “the Government is urged to ensure that the run-off elections are held in a secure environment”, added the statement.