Outgoing minister says breaches of electoral law render result illegal

Posted by Nomalanga Moyo on Friday, August 2, 2013

Outgoing Education Minister and MDC legal secretary David Coltart

Outgoing Education Minister and MDC legal secretary David Coltart has said the context in which Zimbabweans went to the polls has been fraught with many irregularities that render the whole process ‘illegal’.

Coltart was speaking to SW Radio Africa Friday after he raised concerns of massive rigging in the Bulawayo East Constituency, which he had hoped to represent in the next parliament.

Coltart lost the bid to the MDC-T’s Tabitha Khumalo.

In a statement conceding defeat, Coltart noted what he said were serious irregularities and breaches to the Electoral Act, especially the absence of an electronic voters’ roll prior to the election.

He told SW Radio Africa: “But on the (polling) day, we started to see why the failure to make us have the voters’ roll was so critical, and I saw it in two ways.”

“Firstly, earlier in the morning I became aware of a strange number of shaven youngsters around the Brady Barracks area, and that had been allocated seven polling stations all within a 2-km radius.

“The results that came out of those seven polling stations were completely out of keeping with the historical voting patterns in an area where ZANU PF has always lost,” Coltart added.

“Secondly, many people were turned away from polling stations, with their names not appearing on the roll. 85 at a station close to the United Bulawayo Hospitals.”

Coltart said this doubtless affected the election result. He also cited the involvement of police officers in the vote counting process as another Electoral Act breach that occurred on polling day.

“The law is clear that the police should neither be inside the counting station nor be involved in the counting process, yet in Bulawayo East, they were.

“So it is all of these breaches to the law and the constitution which make us say that the entire election has been unfair and illegal,” Coltart said.

Asked why both MDC formations went ahead and participated in an election whose lead-up was already discredited, Coltart said it was a difficult decision to make, as they would have been blamed if they had not.

He said the parties did all they could to raise the issue of the compromised electoral environment to SADC, including at the June 15th Maputo summit.But to no avail.

Coltart said it would be pointless to challenge the election result in the courts: “If you look at the electoral challenges from the 2002 election, none of them have yielded any meaningful change to the result or the system. And to that extent, going to court will be an entirely fruitless exercise.”

The outgoing minister called for calm despite this “massive electoral fraud”. He added that ZANU PF had this time overplayed its hand and, having engineered the result, will have to answer to the people to whom it owes its “landslide victory”, by reviving an economy it has consistently run down.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, who came face-to-face with some youths who had been bused in to vote in Mount Pleasant, has described the ZANU PF poll victory as “monumental rigging”: “It was done in a manner so crude it is unbelievable,” said Biti.

via Outgoing minister says breaches of electoral law render result illegal | SW Radio Africa.