Parliamentary, legal and civil rights watchdog, Veritas, has said that Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba was not correct when she claimed that the agents for the presidential candidates had to be present at the verification process of the results. Commenting on the inexplicable delay in announcing presidential results by the electoral commission, Veritas said,
The totals on the V.23B forms are collated and verified with the results on the V.11 forms for the Presidential elections. Anyone experienced in using Excel spread sheets could do this simply and quickly.
As the V.11 forms were sent straight to the ZEC National Command Centre in Harare the arithmetic could have been done immediately to verify the later returns coming in via the ward and constituency officers.
And then the results should be announced
Quote from today’s (Thursday) edition of The Herald:
“The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] says it will start releasing results of the Presidential eletions from the constituencies across the country after completing the legal processes prescribed by law. … Justice Priscilla Chigumba said after the release of the constituency results, the electoral body will proceed to announce the full tally from the Presidential results.
She said collation of the Presidential results is done at the National Results Centre and the V.11 form returns are already at the centre for verification in the presence of all the 23 Presidential candidates’ representatives.
“The presidential candidates’ agents have to be there for the verification process,” said Justice Chigumba. “They have to sift through the V11 forms and actually agree with the tally.”
This is not correct. Candidates’ agents do not have to be present at this verification process. They merely have to be notified of the time and place and given an opportunity to be present [Electoral Act, section 110(3)(c)to (e)].
Candidates’ agents had the opportunity to check the V.11 forms at the polling stations, the totals on the V.23A forms at the ward centres and the totals on the V.23B forms at the constituency centres. The idea that a candidate’s agent can hold up the final announcement of results by his or her absence is not credible
The delays in announcing results, and the specious reasons given for them, are just causing suspicion and taking many Zimbabwean back to the bad memories of the 2008 elections where similar delays led to disputed results.