Sunday, April 20, 2008

MDC loses bid to block recount

MDC loses bid to block recount
By George Chellah in Harare, Zimbabwe
Sunday April 20, 2008 [04:00]

ZIMBABWE High Court judge Justice Antonia Guvava has dismissed the MDC's application to block a recount of votes in 23 constituencies. Justice Guvava's ruling has now given impetus to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to proceed and recount the votes in the said constituencies. Delivering the ruling on Friday, justice Guvava dismissed the MDC's application to block the recount with costs.

"I have considered carefully submissions made by counsels. I find no merit in the application, accordingly the application is dismissed with costs," justice Guvava said.

The recent ruling comes barely four days after the Zimbabwe High Court rejected another application by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which sought an order to compel the ZEC to announce the results of the presidential election.

In his submissions, MDC lawyer Selby Hwacha had argued that the request for the recounting of votes must have been made within 48 hours of the announcement of the election results.

"The key issue for determination is whether the decision made by ZEC to recount all votes is lawful or unlawful," Hwacha argued.

But ZEC lawyer George Chikumbirike urged the High Court to reject the MDC's application with costs, arguing that there was no basis to hear the opposition political party's arguments.

And after the High Court rejected the MDC's application on Friday, the ZEC through its deputy chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana told the state broadcaster, that all was in place for the recount of votes, which commenced yesterday at the different centres.
Silaigwana said the electoral commission has deployed officers to the centres and had also invited several observers.

Meanwhile, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) observers have arrived in Zimbabwe with more than 50 observers already deployed in different provinces in the country.

The ruling ZANU-PF had requested for the verification and recount of presidential ballots after it claimed to have discovered evidence, which indicated that there was under-counting of its votes and inflation of opposition ballots.

The recounting of votes is expected in areas such as Chimanimani West, Mutare West, Bikita West, Bikita South, Bulilima East, Zhombe, Zaka West, Zvimba North, Silobela, Chiredzi North, Gokwe-Kabuyuni, Buhera South, Lupane East, Mberengwa East, West, South, North, Masvingo Central, Masvingo West, Gutu South, North, Central and Goromonzi West.

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