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Analyst Says Zimbabwe Elections Could be Free and Fair, But Vote Counting Questionable

For an analysis of the post-election situation in Zimbabwe, as the slow vote count continues, VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua spoke with Siphamandla Zondi, program director for Africa at the Institute for Global Dialogue in Midrand, South Africa. He comments on the reasons for the slow vote counting.

“It depends on how one wants to see it. At one level it demonstrates serious challenges…to competence and management of the logistical element of the verification and announcement process, especially because ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) has decided to release the results in a manner that avoids early jubilations, to leave it until the very last moment for everybody to know who has won. But also given the fact that for the first time (they) have four different elections taking place at the same time. They’ve never been fast. They’ve always been a bit sluggish,” he says.

He adds, however, “Another view could be that it’s providing an opportunity for ZANU-PF to rig the elections.”

Asked whether he considers the elections free and fair, Zondi says, “You know, that’s a difficulty. It depends how you want to define free and fair. For me, if the South African election of 1994 and that of 2004 were free and fair, then the Zimbabwe election was relatively free and fair as well.”

He says South Africa faced the same challenges with voter roll problems and some other issues that Zimbabwe has. He describes the Zimbabwe elections as relatively peaceful and says the opposition made better inroads in the rural areas of the country.

Asked then if elections can be free and fair but the vote counting questionable, Zondi says, “That’s where we need to write the distinction. That in my view the polling process for the two months (leading) up to the day of the election was free and was fair. But subsequently to that a lot of questions hang. I think the manner in which the ZEC is managing the tally of votes and the release of results points to unfair electoral practice.”