The Herald (Harare)

10 August 2013

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Files Poll Petition

Photo: MDC-T
MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai addressing a rally before the polls.

MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday filed a petition at the Constitutional Court seeking nullification of the presidential election. He is also seeking a fresh election within 60 days should the relief he seeks be granted. President Mugabe was last Saturday declared duly elected after winning 61,09 percent of the presidential votes, with Mr Tsvangirai trailing at 33,94 percent while the other three contestants shared the remaining 4,97 percent.

Mr Tsvangirai is alleging vote-rigging, electoral bribery, abuse of the special voting system, intimidation of voters and misuse of voter registration slips among other issues as the basis for the petition.

The petition that was filed at 4:30pm yesterday, came as more African countries congratulated President Mugabe on his re-election with a record number of foreign delegations expressing interest in attending President Mugabe's inauguration

President Mugabe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Justice Rita Makarau and ZEC chief elections officer Mr Lovemore Sekeramayi were cited as respondents in the petition that was filed a day before the expiry of the seven-day period in which disgruntled candidates are allowed to file petitions.

In the petition that was filed in terms of Section 93 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Mr Tsvangirai seeks to challenge the validity of the election.

"Through this election petition and evidence which will be led at the trial, I respectfully submit that the first respondent (President Mugabe) was not duly elected owing to the numerous corrupt and illegal practices and other electoral malpractices and irregularities attributable to first respondent or his campaign teams.

"Separately, I seek also to have the election set aside on the basis the second respondent (ZEC) failed to discharge its constitutional obligation to manage and supervise the conduct of a credible, efficient, transparent, free and fair elections as it is obliged to under Chapter 7 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Electoral Act.

"Thirdly, I also seek to have the election set aside on the basis that it was held in breach of the Constitution," reads part of Mr Tsvangirai's affidavit.

He argues that the election was held in breach of the Constitution.

On May 31, the Constitutional Court ordered President Mugabe to proclaim and hold harmonised elections by July 31 after Mr Jealousy Mawarire of the Centre for Elections and Democracy in Southern Africa approached the court seeking an order compelling the President to proclaim the election date before the expiry of the life of the Seventh Parliament on June 29.

Mr Tsvangirai argues that the amendment of the Electoral Act by President Mugabe using his powers under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act was in breach of the Constitution hence everything that followed should be nullified.

He argues that electoral amendments could only be effected through an Act of Parliament.

Mr Tsvangirai further argues that "restrictive voter registration" deprived thousands of people of their right to vote through the limited time.

The closure of registration when many people were still in queues, according to Mr Tsvangirai, was in violation of the Constitution.

Statistics released by the Registrar- General of Voters show that by the time the mop up exercise closed on July 9 this year, 6,4million out of 6,7 million eligible voters were registered to vote, representing 95 percent of eligible voters.

ZEC, the MDC-T leader argues, failed or refused to avail the voters' roll to candidates in searchable and analysable form thereby breaching the Electoral Act.

He also claims there was duplication of names on the voters' roll and that people were intimidated and subsequently voted under duress.

Turning away of voters at polling station was another ground on which Mr Tsvangirai bases his petition, adding that it had an effect of damaging the credibility of the voting process and the credibility of the results.

Mr Tsvangirai argues that a fake voter registration scandal was unearthed in Hatfield where 500 people were found in possession of bogus slips.

He alleges lack of transparency regarding the company that printed the ballot papers and the number of ballot papers printed for special voting.

To cast away concerns over the ballot paper used, Mr Tsvangirai said, a forensic audit should be conducted by an independent body.

Mr Tsvangirai complains that Zanu-PF was involved in "electoral bribery" or "vote-buying" in which politicians would donate foodstuffs at rallies.

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MDC-T President Morgan Tsvangirai addressing a rally before the polls.

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew his challenge of the July 31 election results, 24 hours before judges of the Constitutional Court were due to hear the case. Read more »