Zim High Court halts vote recount

Zimbabwe’s High Court on Sunday ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to refrain from recounting the results of March 29 elections because the presidential results have not yet been announced.

The court was approached on Sunday by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for an order forcing the ZEC to suspend the recount.

The ruling followed an announcement by the ZEC that it would carry out a partial recount of votes cast in the combined presidential, parliamentary and local elections—despite the presidential results not having been released.

“The judge found it not just illegal but grossly unreasonable to order a recount before the result is out. The law is clear about when the recount is done. A candidate requests for a recount within 48 hours after the result has been declared,” MDC lawyer Selby Hwacha said.

The High Court is also considering a separate application by the MDC for a court order forcing the ZEC to release the presidential results.
A ruling in that case is expected on Monday.

The ZEC announced on Sunday it would recount votes cast in 23 out of 210 constituencies—at the instigation of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party—citing “reasonable grounds” to suspect votes were miscounted in a way that could affect the outcome.

The MDC has said it will not accept a vote recount.

“We will not accept any recount because for us that is accepting rigged results. The ZEC are in custody of the ballot boxes for two weeks and heavens know what they have done to the ballot papers. They might have stuffed them with their votes,” MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said.

Zanu-PF is accusing the MDC of vote buying and bribing ZEC officials to inflate its vote after losing its majority in the 210-seat House of Assembly to Morgan Tsvangirai’s party—allegations the MDC rejects.

In the presidential vote the MDC has pre-emptively claimed victory for Tsvangirai. Zanu-PF says neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won outright and is gearing up for a run-off.

Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Sunday called on the ZEC to release the remaining results “expeditiously”, following a 13-hour summit in Lusaka, Zambia, on Zimbabwe’s post-election crisis.

The MDC urged South African President Thabo Mbeki to ditch his policy of quiet diplomacy after he was asked by the regional leaders to continue mediation efforts over the disputed elections.—Sapa-dpa

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