The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) acting chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana admitted that the electoral body did not invite chief election agents of political parties to verify last year’s July 30 election results, which is a blatant violation of the Electoral Act.
Silaigwana made the startling admission while testifying in the trial of MDC vice-chairperson Tendai Biti, who is facing charges of violating the Electoral Act by prematurely announcing the presidential results. Biti was arrested after Zambian authorities deported him back to Zimbabwe after he had sought for political asylum in that country. Said Silaigwana:
We did not invite the chief elections agents of various political parties when we formally announced the third and final results, which are now on our website. We only invited them when we announced the initial figure of 50,80%. On the next figure of 50,67%, we also invited them to verify, but they were nowhere to be found.
He also admitted to releasing wrong results on two consecutive occasions, saying it was because of the country’s poor telecommunications network. Silaigwana could not give a satisfactory explanation as to why ZEC announced three different figures of 50,59%, 50,67% and 50,80% for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory.