By Alex Bell
20 March 2013
An election watchdog group in Zimbabwe has raised concern that observers during the weekend referendum were barred from at least one counting centre, and were blocked from knowing the results.
The Election Resource Centre (ERC), which had a team of accredited observers dispatched across the country, said in a report this week that all observers were told to vacate the counting centre in the Glen View South Constituency as soon as the results of the voting in that area were received.
The observers are understood to have been told they were not at liberty to disclose or display the results, because they were being channelled to the national command centre. The ERC quoted an official at the Glen View South command centre as stating that he had the “exclusive discretion to make (the results) public or not.”
“Such utterances are clearly contrary to the provisions of electoral legislation and regulations,” the ERC said, adding it was “grossly concerned” with these reports.
The ERC also raised concern that at some polling stations in Nyami Nyami, Seke
and Mount Pleasant, the voting results were not being displayed but were instead being channelled directly to the counting centres.
The ERC said this conduct flies in the face of legal regulations stipulating the management of a referendum scenario. These rules say that the results of a local vote count need to be made public at the polling stations. Zimbabwe’s electoral laws also allow for accredited observers and journalists, as well as counting officials and police, to be present during the collation process.
“The ERC therefore calls upon election administrators to exercise consistency in the observance of electoral regulations, which inevitably would limit suspicions of manipulation of the electoral outcomes,” the ERC said.