MDC says Mugabe fast running out of options
By Tichaona Sibanda
8 April 2008
Robert Mugabe’s attempts to cling on to power was dealt a further blow on Tuesday when the MDC revealed that there was no procedure for recounting of votes in respect of the presidential elections.
Innocent Gonese, the party’s secretary for legal and parliamentary affairs, said the country’s amended electoral law act is clear that a recount applies only to parliamentary elections, after the declaration of results. An aggrieved party can contest the outcome within a period of 48 hours. Zanu-PF last week announced it wanted to contest results from 16 seats, almost 96 hours after the final results were made public.
‘This effectively blew away their chances of requesting a recount of the parliamentary seats. In terms of the presidential elections, there is no such provision and Zanu-PF knows it. They are trying to throw mud and cause some confusion in the whole process,’ Gonese said.
Gonese, who was re-elected MP for Mutare central in last month’s elections, accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of being complicit in Mugabe’s attempts to hang on to power.
‘We said all along that they were not an independent body because if they were, they would have released the results last week. What we have now is Zanu-PF arresting some ZEC officials and trying to put into doubt the credibility of the poll, which is all nonsensical,’ said Gonese, a lawyer by profession.
He said ZEC should announce the winner and allow the next head of state to be sworn in, so that parliament can start its business. During the disputed presidential elections of 2002, election officials declared Mugabe the winner, despite allegations of massive rigging.
‘If Mugabe feels cheated, he shouldn’t hold the system to ransom. He should step down, allow the duly elected president of Zimbabwe to be sworn into office. He should not seek a recourse whilst he’s still in office because he lost the elections,’ Gonese said.
Meanwhile the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai met South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma on Monday after appealing for help from outside powers to end the 28-year rule of Robert Mugabe.
A spokesperson for the African National Congress said Tsvangirai had met Zuma in Johannesburg but gave no details.
Our sources told us Tsvangirai was on a diplomatic offensive to explain how Mugabe was clinging on to power, despite losing last month’s elections.
‘He took with him all the necessary documents that clearly show he won the elections. It’s now up to SADC and African Union leaders to decide what to do next because they declared the elections free and fair. There is no way they can turn back and say Mugabe was cheated of victory,’ our source said.
African Union leaders are concerned however that they have been unable to contact Robert Mugabe, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Tuesday.
Press reports said Solana had spoken on Monday with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the AU’s president, and that his ‘big concern’ is that the African leaders ‘have not been able to be in contact with President Mugabe.’
’All the efforts that have been made, have been a failure," Solana told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee in Brussels. "So it is a concern of the leaders of the region.’