ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, April 01, 2005

Zimbabwe Election Update

Serious questions are being raised about the elections in Zimbabwe, such as allegations of government agents kicking opposition election workers out of the polling places, bribing others to let them alter the count, etc. Sokwanele is a good resource and has the unofficial results here, as anounced on Zimbabwean (government run) TV.

Check Sokwanele's blog for updates about first-hand accounts and what's happening on the ground in Zimbabwe. Mass Ukranian-style protests are going to happen if official results are consistent with the early unofficial numbers.

Sokwanele announcement : early election results
Sokwanele : 1 April 2005, 11.00am

We had intended to bring you two sets of results for each constituency – alongside the official results provided by the partisan Registrar-General Tobias Mudede, setting down the best count available from the polling stations themselves. In order to do this we were relying upon ZANU-PF to adhere to the electoral law of the land. This includes a provision (under the Electoral Act section 64 (2)) requiring the presiding officer of each polling station to affix a copy of the polling station return outside the polling station immediately upon the completion of the count.

Our mistake was to believe for one moment that this lawless regime would adhere to the law – even their own deeply flawed legislation. In fact we have now learnt that presiding officers were instructed to openly flout the law by imposing a news black-out on the results until authorised to release them by Harare. In the result at this stage we can only provide the official, and clearly suspect, results announced by the Registrar-General (column (2) on our tables). The blank column therefore indicates the missing element - the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Despite every obstacle thrown in the way, we still intend to bring you the real results (column (1) on our tables) as soon as we are able.

Reports of the lawless activities of presiding officers and other officials of the Zimbabwe Election Officer (ZEC) continue to flood in. Here are just a sample few of them.

In one instance ZANU PF thugs entered the polling station after polling had closed and remained there while the counting continued (Insiza). In another, ballot boxes containing postal votes of unknown origin were added to the registered votes and when election agents queried this with the presiding officer they were told to mind their own business (Victoria Falls). In Kwe Kwe ZANU PF youths whose names were not on the register and who only arrived at the poling station after 7.00 pm, were allowed to vote despite the protests of election agents. At two polling stations in Lupane ZANU PF militia chased away the election agents, and the count continued in the absence of any MDC representatives. At another polling station photocopies of postal ballots of unknown origin were accepted, each and every one of them being votes for ZANU PF.

But the most blatant and widespread violation of the electoral law concerned the refusal of presiding officers to post the results at the polling stations upon the completion of the count, as required by Section 64 (2) of the Electoral Act. Time and again, and from centres across the country, we hear of polling officers refusing to post the results, and instead seeking to impose an illegal news blackout. MDC election agents were illegally detained at polling stations after the completion of the count, and they were prevented from using their cell phones. Many were imprisoned by presiding officers. In one instance (in Bulawayo East) the election agents only recovered their freedom by making good their escape from their captor (presiding officer). In many instances the MDC election agents are still being held hostage as we write.
Willisms.com has a good roundup here... And The Gateway Pundit (Howdy, Neighbor) has info on practice of "zombie" voters in Zimbabwe. (Sounds like Wisconsin 2004 to me.)

Publius Pundit has all the info you need.

I'm sure Jimmah Carter is going to provide us with his stamp of approval soon... Although, even the Carter Center couldn't bless the 2000 election (in Zimbabwe).

***UPDATE***
Click Here to read Mark Steyn's take on the Zimbabwe situation from the previous election in 2002. It provides some context for why this election is so important. Here's his intro (written today):
BOB'S BACK

The Zimbabwe election fix is one of those stories that comes around every couple of years now. This is how it looked to me writing in The National Post last time round, on March 7th 2002, after the Commonwealth Conference. If you're wondering why Zimbabwe doesn't seem likely to enjoy an election day like Iraq's any time in the near future, that's because its fate is in the hands not of George W Bush but of Britain, Canada and South Africa who'd rather "manage" the problem in perpetuity:
Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler