Caritas Internationalis says that there is no possible reason to delay any longer the release of results in Zimbabwe’s presidential contest other than to rewrite the final result. It is now more than 10 days since the peaceful elections took place on 29 March 2008, but there has been no outcome to the presidential poll.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is in charge of publishing the results. It is a constitutional body mandated to conduct elections and referendums “efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and in accordance with the law.” This mandate includes ensuring that the results of the elections are made public to the contesting parties and to the nation as a whole as quickly as possible, within reasonable time.
Caritas believes that time has now elapsed.
In the presidential poll, the incumbent, Robert Mugabe, is facing Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. If a winning candidate does not win more than 50 per cent of the total votes, a run-off race is required.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley Anne Knight said, “Failure to release the election results without any compelling reason is not justifiable. It is simply leading to the suspicion that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is being manipulated to produce results against the verdict of the people.
“The voice of the people of Zimbabwe must be upheld and must not be tampered with by partisan interests. The delay is a recipe for political tension and instability. In the interests of peace and justice in Zimbabwe, Caritas supports the Catholic Church and the people of Zimbabwe in calling on the Electoral Commission to publish the results urgently.
“Zimbabwe faces an urgent task in rebuilding its economy, turning the tide on a devastating HIV and AIDS pandemic, and encouraging the millions of Zimbabweans who have fled the country in despair to return. The delays with producing the results are just making that process more difficult.
”All sides in Zimbabwe must remain committed to dialogue and a peaceful outcome to the political crisis. All sides must condemn acts of violence or intimidation and ensure their supporters remain committed to the democratic process.”
Alouis Munyaradzi Chaumba of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe said, “The autonomy and professionalism of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have been seriously eroded and deeply compromised, reinforcing accusations of embedded partisanship and bias. In the event of a re-run of the presidential election, Zimbabweans and the international community will have grave doubts about the fairness and impartiality of ZEC to conduct the poll.”
Over four million people in Zimbabwe are facing critically low levels of staple foods unless they receive urgent food aid. Caritas has scaled up its operations to provide food for over 100,000 people until April 2008. Caritas is helping 16,500 families with agricultural and irrigation support in planting for the next harvest.
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has blamed the Government led by President Robert Mugabe for overseeing the economic and social collapse, for violating the freedom and fundamental rights of the people, and for failing to tackle rampant corruption.
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