New Zimbabwe presidential run-off date flouts constitution

Reading time 3 min.

Zimbabwe’s interim justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has announced that a presidential election runoff is to be held 90 days from May 2, which was the date of announcement of results of the original poll.

from our correspondent in Harare

The announcement immediately drew an angry response from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which won the elections on held on March 29.

Zanu-PF veteran ruler, Robert Mugabe, in power for 28 years, suffered his first electoral defeat at the hands of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of voting on March 29. Tsvangirai won the first round by 47 percent to Mugabe’s 43 percent.

A runoff had to be called because Tsvangirai, according to official results, failed to reach the 50 percent threshold. He, however, denies this, insisting he actually garnered 50,3 percent of votes.

An extra-ordinary gazette published Wednesday stated: “Not withstanding Section 110 of the Electoral Act, the period within which a second election for the office of the President is hereby extended from 21 days to 90 days from the date of announcement of results of the first poll.”

The MDC immediately reacted with outrage at the announcement, and vowed that Tsvangirai, who won the presidential election by a simple majority, according to the MDC, would form his government on May 23, if there was no election by that date.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had “delivered a catalogue of scandals” and could no longer be allowed to continue taking people for granted.

“First they refused to announce the results, then they conducted an illegal recount, then they refused to conduct a verification exercise, announced flawed results, refused to announce the date of the runoff, and now they have extended the date,” said Chamisa. “This is illegal. They are tormenting and torturing people.”

Tsvangirai initially said he would boycott the presidential election runoff
because all the odds were stacked in favour of Mugabe. He later recanted and said he would demand international supervision of the poll by SADC, the AU and the UN, the reconstitution of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and that the election be conducted in accordance with the stipulated time under the law, which is within 21 days of the announcement, or by May 23.

Mugabe has promised to abide by a set of regional guidelines to ensure that elections are free and fair, but rejected Tsvangirai’s demands.

He insists the ZEC is an independent electoral commission and earlier accused the MDC of corrupting the electoral body by offering financial inducements to bribe to electoral officials to undercount votes cast for Mugabe during the election.

Chinamasa says the government wanted the election to be pushed back so that more electoral reforms could be passed and financial resources for ZEC mobilised.

Tsvangirai recently said the MDC would be “damned if we do take part in the run-off and damned if we don’t”.

The MDC leader, who was expected in Harare on Friday, was due to address what the party described as victory rallies on Saturday in Bulawayo. The police have banned his rallies in Harare.

It remained unclear if he had finally obtained a security guarantee from the government. There were fears he could be arrested on treason charges, or physically harmed the moment he returned.

The United States (US) and the European Union (EU) have accused Mugabe of using violence and of planning electoral fraud in the second round of voting.

The MDC says 32 of its supporters have been killed in the aftermath of the election, hundreds tortured and thousands rendered homeless.

Zimbabwe  Read latest news and features from Zimbabwe : business, politics, culture, life & style, entertainment and sports
Support Follow Afrik-News on Google News