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Zim run-off election possible within 12 months

by Michael Appel
on 07 May 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Head of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) Observer Mission to Zimbabwe Marwick Khumalo told reporters on Wednesday that a run-off election, if decided upon, could be held within the next 12 months.

"... last night [I] spoke to the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [George Chiweshe] who told me that it is not practical to organise a run-off election within the stipulated 21 days after the election results were announced.

"Logistically and in terms of procurement of election goods it would be almost impossible and impractical to hold it within 21 days," said Mr Khumalo.

Mr Khumalo - who remained tight-lipped on a possible timeframe for a run-off said - that Mr Chiweshe did allay his fears that a run-off election would be postponed indefinitely by saying it would not be held in more than a year.

Should such a situation unfold, he said, the PAP Observer Mission would be ready to head back to Zimbabwe.

Answering questions, Mr Khumalo highlighted that, "according to the laws of the land, a run-off election has to take place ... [But] the parliament and legislature of the country remains paralysed until a clear winner is announced.

"It is disturbing that the will of the people is becoming more and more insignificant and undermined in Africa [as is illustrated by a crackdown on protest action by governments] ... and ruling parties are starting to show that they would rather share power than leave all together.

"For the sake of prosperity, peace and the country, we have to consider a power sharing agreement in Zimbabwe."

As has emerged in Kenya following disputed 27 December 2007 presidential elections which split the country along ethnic lines, the ruling Party of National Unity (PNU) under Mwai Kibaki entered into a power-sharing deal with opposition Orange Democratic Movement's (ODM's) Raila Odinga instead of relinquishing power.

"The situation now is not conducive for free and fair elections," said Mr Khumalo, adding "we are dealing with a wounded tiger [referring to the Zanu-PF and its leader Robert Mugabe].

"When the Zanu-PF approaches a run-off election, it will not be child's play. They have been in power for almost three decades and it will not be easy for them to let go."

A possible solution to end Africa's trend of disputed elections could be, said Mr Khumalo, to instead of using national electoral bodies to oversee the voting and ballot counting process, to get external bodies involved.

Moving to Kenya, Head of the PAP's Observer Mission to Kenya Elhadji Diao Kante, told reporters that four parliamentarians left for Kenya to oversee the election process in that country.

"What we found was that in terms of legislation, the law was very clear on electoral procedures.

"However, when it came to sending teams to the various polling stations, they found people couldn't find their names on the voters roll and did not know which polling station to go to.

"People were determined to cast their vote and it was the biggest number of people I have ever seen turn out to vote in Kenya, and this was my third time observing in Kenya," said Mr Kante.

Kenyan electoral authorities knew the job that they had to do and were aware of the responsibilities placed on them, he said.

The problems in Kenya began, said Mr Kante, when according to local television Mr Kibaki was proclaimed the winner with 200 000 more votes than his rival Mr Odinga, whilst there was still 18 constituencies that were outstanding.

"This stoked the fire and the problems began. Mr Kibaki was proclaimed the winner and the result was surprising considering the election results we were from local television," said Mr Kante.

Mr Kante highlighted that it was uncommon for an opposition party, the ODM in Kenya's case, to win a clear majority of seats in parliament, but not the presidential election.

Mr Kibaki has remained as Kenya's President, whilst a prime ministers position has been created for Mr Odinga. - BuaNews

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