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Friday, March 24, 2017
Zimbabwe: aid agencies call for action as election results slowly emerge
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 International development agencies, Progressio, Tearfund, Trócaire and FEPA last night called for immediate action to stop what appears to impartial observers as government-led election rigging of Zimbabwe's 29 March polls All four agencies said they are concerned about the slow release of election results, which as Noel Kututwa, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said: "is fuelling speculation that there could be something going on. Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliamentary Observer Mission, has also expressed concern over the delay. A mutual partner, Pastor Promise of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance said: "SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections stipulate that counting of votes shall be done at the polling stations. This was done and completed yet ZEC is withholding the results which are already public knowledge as they were posted outside each polling station. With Kenya's violence so fresh in our minds, it is not acceptable to delay the timely announcement of results as if to provoke the already highly charged electorate. It,s extremely urgent that ZEC announces all the results immediately. The agencies said they are concerned that: In some cases, officially announced votes do not appear to be tallying with those registered and displayed at polling stations. It had taken over 30 hours to collate and begin to announce election results, which were posted up outside polling stations two days ago. The pace of announcement has been painfully slow. By 3pm yesterday the Electoral Commission had announced parliamentary poll results for only 30 out of 210 constituencies. Results for senatorial and presidential polls are also still pending. The delay in announcing results and the failure of the Electoral Commission to satisfactorily explain the delays to the general public is contributing to tensions and could lead to a situation of instability in the country. · The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has already issued its statement on the elections. According to article 6.1.12 of the SADC guidelines, observers monitoring elections are obliged to issue a statement on 'conduct AND outcome'. The SADC observer mission only issued a statement on conduct of elections yesterday afternoon and has now declared its work finished. The agencies said: "In light of these serious concerns, we urge governments to take the following critical actions: · African and especially southern African leaders should ensure that the SADC observer mission fulfils its obligations to the people of Zimbabwe by following through on assessing the counting process and declared outcome of the polls; · There should be an SADC investigation and response to the allegations of fraud made by independent outside and domestic analysts and observers, in particular with respect to why the announcement of results was delayed when polling stations results were already reported; · African Union and national leaders should be prepared to lead a process of mediation in the event of a disputed outcome/ · The UK, Ireland, EU and member states should encourage African leaders to insist that the SADC principles are rigorously followed, in particular on ensuring that the results announced reflect the will of the people. · Security forces in Zimbabwe are also urged to respect the verdict of the people. Progressio is an international Catholic development agency working for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency working with a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty. Trócaire is an Irish charity & development agency working for a just world. FEPA is the Foundation for Development and Partnership in Africa. It is based in Switzerland and has worked in Zimbabwe for many years.
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