Church leaders meet ZEC

Herald Reporter, The Herald, April 12, 2008

CHURCH leaders met the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission yesterday and expressed satisfaction with ZEC’s explanation over the delay in announcing results of the presidential election.

The heads of Christian denominations met ZEC in Harare to seek an explanation over the delay and urged the nation to maintain peace while the election body does its work.

Speaking to journalists after a closed-door meeting with ZEC chairman Justice George Chiweshe, Bishops Trevor Manhanga and Patrick Mutume expressed satisfaction with the explanation they got.

"It was a free meeting, church leaders expressed the concerns they have and Justice Chiweshe answered the issues raised. He said he could not go into detail as the matter is before the courts," Bishop Manhanga said.

ZEC has publicised results of House of Assembly and Senate elections but is yet to announce the outcome of the presidential election contested by President Mugabe of Zanu-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and independents Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana.

Bishop Manhanga urged the nation to maintain peace as witnessed before, during and after the country’s first harmonised elections.

"We appeal to the people to remain peaceful. We are confident it is going to be a fair process to determine who is the ultimate winner. We thank the nation for the maturity they have shown. A nation cannot go forward when there is violence," said Bishop Manhanga.

Bishop Mutume said they wanted to understand why there was a delay in announcing the results.

"He (Justice Chiweshe) told us that he is not under Zanu-PF, MDC-T or any other party. He said his organisation is free to make decisions. If we did not push him to the wall, it (meeting) could have taken 10 minutes. Important questions were asked," he said.

"As pastors, we are the ones who start receiving blows. This has pushed us to say let’s go and see the man in charge," said Bishop Mutume.

Justice Chiweshe said he discussed the "elections in general" with the clergy.

He said it was not true that ZEC had not announced the results because of a High Court application by the MDC-T.

"No, that is not the correct position. We said we are unable to discuss issues because the matter is pending in the High Court."

He said ZEC had not stopped its functions simply because there was a case before the courts.

"We have not stopped what we are supposed to do. If ready with the results, we will release them," Justice Chiweshe said.

Justice Chiweshe said ZEC was fully responsible for all electoral issues and anyone with queries should approach

the commission.

"ZEC is responsible for running elections and people should be directed to us. They should refer them to us," he added.

The commission, Justice Chiweshe said, was not working under pressure from anyone.

After the results of three other elections were announced, he said there was no need to keep staff at the National Command Centre.

Justice Chiweshe said the anomalies discovered in some constituencies were unearthed by ZEC, political parties and contesting candidates.

High Court judge Justice Tendayi Uchena will deliver judgment in the case in which the MDC-T is seeking an order for ZEC to announce presidential results on Monday next week.

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