On Friday, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Acting Chair, Joyce Kazembe was reportedly quoted by ZBC reiterating that the ZEC had a right to delay issuing of election results in the event of procedural irregularities. She also noted that the five day window period to release results as stated through the amended electoral law was subject to review. In other words, her message was that the release of results is a prerogative of the ZEC. This is a red flag marked by the ZEC’s failure to exercise free and fair reporting. Even the five day grace period is more than enough for results to be counted and reported to the nation at large. Such a statement could be a harbinger of issues to come in 2013. A delayed election result means undue prejudice to the citizenry. Such a delay also signifies ill motives to rig elections and tamper with the vote because there is no guarantee for safe, secure and proper accountability of election results in Zimbabwe especially after the 2008 experience. Regardless of arbitrary legislation in place, such promissory words by ZEC call for strict scrutiny because they already have a direct bearing on what is to come.
As a putative neutral body, ZEC should operate above body. Now with such legislation that reserves the right to prejudice the voter, free expression is arbitrarily denied. With lots of rigging mechanisms in place that means justice delayed is justice denied. There is no reason at all for election results to be held back. Even if it means teams spending twenty four hours counting votes, then let that be. To ask for more than five days in a situation where the already stipulated five days are questionable simply points to calculated moves to justify foul play. The link between rule of law, democracy and elections is so direct and it also must be added as a cliché that the legislature functions after a vote by the people. Elections establish the constitution of the legislature that then makes the national policy. Without an approved legislature, there is no proper government and once the legislature fails to honor the wishes of the electorate, there is no rule of law and democracy is denied.