New law criminalises unofficial election results

via Bulawayo24 NEWS | New law criminalises unofficial election results 25 August 2014

Zimbabwe’s new electoral law assented to by President Robert Mugabe last week will now criminalise unofficial announcement or publication of poll results.

The announcement of electoral results has been an area of contention in Zimbabwe’s notoriously disputed political playfield.

Following the inconclusive 2008 elections, whose first round was won by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, albeit coming just short of the constitutional requirement to assume power, MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti was charged with treason for declaring Tsvangirai the duly elected leader of the country.

Any people or political candidates who unofficially declare general election results before they are officially announced by the Chief Election Officer risk a “level six fine, a one-year jail-term or both” under the amended Electoral Act.

Section 66 A of the Electoral Act, according to the government gazette published last Friday, has been repealed and substituted.

“Section 66 A unofficial or false declaration of results prohibited…subject to Sub-Section (3), any person who purports to announce the result of an election as the true or official results or purports to declare any candidate to have been duly elected before an electoral officer, acting in accordance with this Act has announced the result of that election or declared a candidate to have been duly elected in that election…as the case maybe, shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or both such a fine and imprisonment,” read  the gazette.

According to the new law, any person who unofficially announces number of votes accumulated by any party or candidate shall also face a one-year jail-sentence.

“Subject to Sub-Section (4), any person who, with intent to deceive or to discredit the electoral process in any election, falsely…..report or announces the number of votes received by a candidate or political party in an election or declares any candidate to have been elected in an election….shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one-year or both such fine and such imprisonment,” the notice reads.

However, the Act does not prevent individuals disclosing the results for the purporses of a court petition regarding a poll result.

“Sub-Section (1) shall not be construed as preventing any person from reporting the number of votes received by a candidate or political party in an election, where the report is based on polling station returns and constituency returns from the election concerned.

“Sub-Section (2) shall not be construed as preventing any person from making any allegation regarding the result or conduct of an election in or for the purposes of an election petition,” added the notice.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 7
  • comment-avatar

    Wouldn’t that be un-constitutional, since it’s an obvious restriction on freedom of speech? It’s right up there with that other stupid, and un-constitutional law that makes it a crime to call Mugabe an old donkey – even though he is.

  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 7 years ago

    SHAME!

  • comment-avatar

    I bet if you leaked the results of ZANU-PF winning even if they are not in the running to win you would go scot free. It will be a crime if any other party was put in poll position ahead of ZANU-PF tho, only because the truth hurts ZANU-PF.

    ZANU-PF wants to ‘doctor’ the results before they are announced to give an impression that they and only they are the darling of the majority of Zimbabwe.

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 7 years ago

    Eventually even this measure will not help them

  • comment-avatar

    On this one I need not comment on the substantive issue as devised above,but on the motive of this pre-emptive gesture.More over why do we need to prioritise 2018 election rules now amidst all these pressing issues before us.

  • comment-avatar
    Kakwinya 7 years ago

    Till when are u going to hide behind your fingers. So you are going to withold elections results for three months and allow yourself 3months to doctor the results.Shame on you autocrat. Is this upholding the values of the liberation struggle.

  • comment-avatar
    bruce koffe 7 years ago

    When the truth is said, it does not matter where and how its conveyed