Zimbabwe begins vote recount

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Zimbabwe election officials have today begun to recount 23 out of 210 constituencies' ballots after president Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party accused the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), of bribing election officials. Several arrests have since been made in relation to the recount.

We have no doubt on the insistence of a recount because ballot boxes have been stuffed. Those ballot boxes have become pregnant and reproduced.

Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general

The ballots are from the parliamentary elections held on March 29. The opposing MDC made an appeal to Harare's High Court for the recount to be stopped. However it was rejected, Justice Antonia Guvava saying "I find no merit in the application... Accordingly, the application is dismissed with costs." Despite this MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is currently staying in South Africa for his own safety, claims to have won both parliamentary and presidential elections outright.

Opponents of Mugabe's regime have accused him of being biased and are certain that he will cheat. "Clearly these guys have tampered with the boxes. They can't deny that," the MDC's spokesman Nelson Chamisa said. "How do you expect us to have confidence in the process?".

British prime minister Gordon Brown also criticised Mugabe, claiming before the United Nations Security Council in New York on Wednesday that "no one thinks" he won the election. Mr. Mugabe needs 9 of the 23 recounted ballots to be in his party's favour to retain a parliamentary majority.

"The vote recounting process has started, and it's going to be a thorough exercise. We expect it to take about three days," a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission official told Reuters earlier today. A team from the international Southern African Development Community as well as various diplomats are observing the recounts.

This recount comes after a chain of controversies in Zimbabwe including arms deals with China, suspected violent intimidation of opposition and denunciation of international opponents.