Zimbabwe: Govt Warns Inciteful Political Parties, Individuals

Polling station in Zimbabwe.
1 August 2018

Government says it has noted with "concern" the actions of some political party leaders who have declared that they will announce results of the just-ended historic harmonised elections. Further, Government is equally worried about the extent to which some political parties are inciting violence if they are not announced as winners of the elections.

This was said by Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Dr Obert Mpofu while addressing journalists in Harare last night.

Dr Mpofu warned that the full wrath of the law would descend on political parties and individuals that prematurely announce results and incite violence.

". . . as Government we have noted with concern the actions and conduct of some political party leaders, civic organisations, individuals and other interested groups who are openly declaring that they will announce results irrespective of the provisions of the law," said Dr Mpofu.

"The Government of Zimbabwe is equally perturbed with the high level of incitement to violence being perpetrated by certain individuals and some political party leaders who have declared themselves winners even before the announcement of results."

According to Section 66A of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13), anyone who unofficially or falsely declares election results, would have flouted the law and they "shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both such fine and imprisonment".

The announcement of poll results is a prerogative of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

Dr Mpofu's warning comes at a time the MDC-Alliance, have claimed to have won the elections.

MDC-Alliance presidential candidate Mr Nelson Chamisa took to micro blogging site Twitter, at 1950hrs on Monday, barely an hour after the close of polling stations, to declare that he was "winning resoundingly" and ready to form the next government.

Yesterday, another MDC-Alliance principal Mr Tendai Biti also claimed that their party had won the polls, despite the fact that ZEC only started announcing results in batches, late in the afternoon.

But Dr Mpofu warned parties and individuals against provoking the "wrath of the law and risk being sent to jail".

Reports suggested that MDC-Alliance thugs in Mutare marched along the streets demanding that their presidential candidate Mr Chamisa be declared the winner.

In the build up to the July 30 polls, Mr Chamisa said he had the capacity to make the country ungovernable.

He also said his supporters should congregate at a neutral venue immediately after voting, and only leave once results were announced in his favour.

However, Government says mischievous actions that have capacity to cause "alarm and despondency" in the country leave the police with no option, but to "investigate and arrest" if there are breaches of the law.

"Let me also warn such individuals and groups that no one is above the law, the law enforcement agents will arrest anyone found on the wrong side of law without fear or favour irrespective of your political stature, gender, colour or creed in society.

"Let me reiterate that the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other security institutions will remain on high alert and continue to monitor the security situation in the country.

"The police therefore remains deployed across the country to maintain law and order," said Dr Mpofu.

He implored political parties and citizens to accept the official results when they have been announced, adding that as the nation awaits the full announcement of the poll outcome, everyone should remain peaceful.

Dr Mpofu also said candidates should approach the police when they have been threatened with physical harm.

This followed claims by Mr Biti that there are attempts to assassinate him together with Mr Chamisa.

The African Union tweeted yesterday that the electoral process has been "peaceful, and we want to see that this peaceful way continues until the election is concluded".

Former Ethiopia Prime Minister Mr Hailemariam Desalegne is Head of the African Union Election Observer Mission to Zimbabwe.

On Monday Mr Desalegne told The Herald after his tour of Epworth and Hopley that the voting process was "generally peaceful, orderly and professionally handled".

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