Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s acting chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, yesterday admitted that the electoral body did not invite chief election agents of political parties to verify last year’s July 30 election results as required by the law.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Silaigwana made the admission while testifying in the trial of MDC vice-chairperson Tendai Biti, who is facing charges of violating the Electoral Act by prematurely announcing the presidential results.
Biti’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa had asked the Zec boss if he invited the elections agents of various political parties when final results were announced.
“We did not invite the chief elections agents of various political parties when we formally announced the third and final results, which are now on our website. We only invited them when we announced the initial figure of 50,80%. On the next figure of 50,67% we also invited them to verify, but they were nowhere to be found,” Silaigwana said while testifying before Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa.
He also admitted to releasing wrong results on two consecutive occasions, saying it was because of the country’s poor telecommunications network.
He struggled to explain why they announced three different figures of 50,59%, 50,67% and 50,80% for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory.
“I put it to you that Zec disowned what it posted outside polling stations, coming up with three different results. You are not producing this information and you are hiding it because it will not contradict the accused person,” Mtetwa said.
She further asked Silaigwana if he would dispute that Biti announced the results based on the collated figures from the polling stations around the country and that MDC leader Nelson Chamisa was ahead with 75%.
Silaigwana said he could not dispute the assertion, but insisted that the presidential election results announced by Biti were incorrect and unofficial.
The Zec boss later became hostile and threatened to stop responding to some of Mtetwa’s questions, claiming it was now turning into an election petition, but Takundwa insisted that he answers to all questions put to him.
Silaigwana then told the court that he never investigated Biti’s claim that Chamisa won by 75% as at July 31 because it was unnecessary.
“It was not necessary to disprove his utterances because we were still collating the results from across the country,” Silaigwana said.
Tafadzwanashe Mpariwa and Jonathan Murombedzi appeared for the State.