17 August 2018

Zimbabwe: In-Depth - ZEC Chief Says Chamisa's Election Figures Fanciful

MDC Alliance presidential aspirant Nelson Chamisa's election figures are a figment of his fertile imagination, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has said.

In her response to the opposition leader's Constitutional Court petition demanding that he be announced winner of last month's presidential, Chigumba tore into shreds figures provided by the petitioner.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner of the ballot with 50.8 percent of the vote against 44.3 percent for his main rival.

Chamisa, the ZEC chief argues, based his contention on "online news articles" and not facts from official sources.

With MDC Alliance leader citing double entries as possible point were the election was rigged in Mnangagwa's favour, Chigumba argues the mathematical errors have no material effect on the poll.

"The collation of results of some polling stations twice was a data capture error whose extent has no material effect on the result of the presidential election.

"After correction of the double entries the 1st respondent still meets the statutory threshold of 50% plus 1," said Chigumba adding she had attached an "expert statistical analysis that is attached to my affidavit which deals with the expert reports presented by the applicant and the other minor data capture errors identified in the applicant's founding papers."

On the issue of official results not posted outside polling stations as required by law, Chigumba retorted:

"I reiterate my averments in respect of the allegation that V11s were not posted at 21% of polling stations.

"Applicant has not placed any evidence for his averment before the court. He has not named the polling stations he alleges did not have returns posted.

"His averments are bald and cannot, with respect, ground the relief he seeks."

Vote verification

Chigumba rubbishes claims by the opposition leader that his agents were denied V11 Forms and access to the verification of the results.

Regarding disparities in votes between presidential candidates and those for the national assembly as well as local government, Chigumba provides practical examples.

"In Norton constituency Themba Mliswa, an independent candidate won the House of Assembly election and the Zanu PF candidate lost but the Zanu PF presidential candidate received the most votes in that constituency.

"In Matabeleland South province Zanu PF won 7 House of Assembly seats as opposed to the MDC-Alliance's 5 but the applicant (Chamisa) garnered more votes in the presidential election in that province than the 1st respondent (Mnangagwa)," the Zec chairperson said.

Chamisa and Chigumba also differ as regards the number not only of registered voters but also those that actually cast their votes.

"The total voter population for purposes of the 2018 general election was 5 695 936 and not 5 659 583 indicated by the applicant," said Chigumba.

"The previously announced number before polling day had been 5 695 706, which figure was adjusted by the addition of 230 voters who had been registered on a BVR registration kit in Chegutu, Mashonaland West province, prior to the cut-off date for the 2018 general election but had not been uploaded into the database.

Voter turnout

"The final voter turnout in the presidential election was 85.1% which, when applied to the total voter population, equates to 4 847 233.

"The results announced by the Electoral Commission for the presidential election totalled 4 847 996, a variance of 763 votes with the actual 85.1%, which variance is accounted for by some errors in data capture, (which I will address further down in my affidavit and are also addressed in the statistical report attached) but does not change the outcome of the election."

While Chamisa, in his petition, argues that the national voter turnout was 72%, Chigumba states that it was actually 85.1%.

"The 700 000 votes that the applicant alleges are unaccounted for are directly resultant upon the use of 72% as the final voter turnout in the presidential election and not the correct 85.1%.

"Further, the figure that the applicant comes up with, 4 032 000, as 72% of the total voter population includes, by necessary implication, every vote that would be cast in a presidential poll including votes that would, on the count, be deemed to be invalid for one reason or another.

"The figures he indicates as the total votes cast from the announced results, 4 775 640, and from the data on the Electoral Commission's CD, 4 774 878, both reflect the total valid votes cast in terms of the announcements and the data on the CD.

"The 4 032 000 on the one hand and the 4 775 640 and 4 774 878 on the other are thus totals representing two different kinds of things the former including every valid and invalid vote and the latter only the valid votes.

"The applicant then proceeds to subtract, in turn, the two elements of the latter category of votes from the former category of votes thus yielding in each instance the 700 000 alleged unaccounted votes without taking account, in that computation, of the difference between the two things he has subtracted from each other."

Chigumba further argues that Chamisa's claims of more people voting than registered at specific polling stations cannot be sustained.

"There are no polling stations where more than a thousand people voted," she said.

"There are no polling stations where more people voted than appear on the voters' roll for that polling station.

"The applicant's G series alleges that at Mandara Primary School polling station in Bikita West 809 people voted in the presidential election out of a total registered voter population of 447.

"The V11 form in respect of Mandara Polling Station, however, records, contrary to the applicant's assertions, that 371 people voted in the presidential election."

She provides other exampled that show the source documents that Zec has in its possession and the ones used by Chamisa could be different.

Chigumba adds that Chamisa should have asked for a re-count within the prescribed time of 48 hours after results were announced.

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