Most disputes relating to elections in Zimbabwe are a result of disputes arising from contested election results. This has been a recurring electoral problem from one election to another and this paper seeks to unpack some of the issues giving rise to these electoral disputes centring around results management.
This paper discusses results management in general results transmission and announcement specifically. It explores the legal framework providing for results management in Zimbabwe, the country’s experience with results management in the past and will explore models available on results management.
Its not the paper’s intention to be prescriptive on the model to use for results management in the country but an attempt will be made to explore options that are available to enhance the integrity of any results management model thus proposed. This will be informed by the legislation, political environment, local infrastructure, technical capacities as well as both financial and human resources available.
An election results management system (RMS) is defined as the process by which an election authority counts, tabulates, aggregates and announces the results of an election, which starts immediately after the closing of polling and ends with the final results. There is a misconception that it is limited to announcement of the election results only. Its process that commences from the results collation, tabulation, transmission and announcement of results. Most disputes from elections stem from disagreements arising from the management of results.
This, however can not be isolated as the only determination of a successful election, it plays an integral part in the integrity of an election and the acceptance of the results by contesting parties. Most of the disputes, as will be discussed in this paper, relating to elections in Zimbabwe are a result of the disputes arsing from disputed election results.
For example, in 2008, presidential elections results took more than a month before they were released raising speculation of results manipulation. Fast forward to 2018, the dispute arising from the presidential election results had to be settled by the supreme court. It goes without saying that if Zimbabwe is to address its history, of disputed elections it must address issues related to the management of results among other election related issues.
When people vote they expect the results of the elections immediately (yesterday) after the poll. Whilst this may not be possible, election management bodied (EMBs) can expedite the process without compromising the integrity of the results through different emerging models of results management.
The country, Zimbabwe, has made tremendous progress, over the years, towards making it difficult for ballot staffing at polling station level through the implementation of a raft of measures including the use of translucent ballots, presence of accredited party agents and observers at polling station level, polling station based voting, giving results to agents and posting results outside the polling station, Increased and robust training of electoral officers and results tabulation and collation has greatly improved this aspect of the electoral process.
Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)