ZANU PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo’s political fate hangs in the balance, as his attempts to force a recount in the Tsholotsho North elections might be stillborn as winning candidate Roselyn Nkomo has challenged the move.
The recount was due to be held today, but it is unclear whether it will still go ahead, after Nkomo’s lawyers wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Committee (ZEC) saying there was no justification for the move.
Nkomo, wife of outgoing Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, beat Moyo by slightly more than 200 votes in last week’s poll.
Moyo appealed for a recount and ZEC granted it.
However, Nkomo’s lawyers, Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners on Monday wrote to ZEC chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi challenging the electoral body’s directive for a recount, arguing it was unlawful.
“This notice comes as a surprise to our client, Roselyn Nkomo, the MDC-T candidate for the constituency who won this seat when results were declared,” the letter reads.
“The notice does not state whether the recount is at the initiative of another candidate in terms of Section 67A (4) or it’s an initiative of ZEC, Section 67A (4).
“The procedure set out in sections 67A (2) (4) has not been followed.”
They argued that Nkomo was not immediately notified about the request for the recount, according to the Electoral Law.
“Nor were they notified immediately of the specific number of votes believed to have been miscounted and how the miscount occurred, and how the alleged miscount affected the elections,” the letter continues.
“Our client was not notified immediately of the time and date on which the complaint was received by the commission.
“Your commission has proceeded to order a recount in terms of such Section 3 (b) without concerning yourselves about sub-Sections 2(a) (b) (c) and (3).
“In that regard the commission reached the decision that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the alleged miscount of the votes occurred and that if it did, it affected the results without giving our client an opportunity to state its side of the story.
“This is clear violation of the audi alteram partem rule.”
The audi alteram partem rule states that both parties must be heard.
The lawyers said Nkomo feared that the ballot boxes could have been tampered with since she had not been guarding them.
“Surely with the allegations of electoral malpractices, our client has reasonable fears that the ballot boxes may have been tampered with,” the lawyers added.
“In the result our client is objecting to this recount in the strongest terms for lack of compliance with the procedure on the parts of ZEC and also due to the high likelihood that these boxes have been tampered with.”
Contacted for comment, ZEC deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe yesterday said she had not seen Nkomo’s challenge.
“I have not seen the letter,” she said. “I also do not know if the recounting is going ahead.”
Moyo is one of handful of high-profile Zanu PF candidates that fell by the wayside after they lost last week’s elections.
Moyo fell on his own sword, as he was one of the most vocal people calling for the holding of elections, with or without reforms.
ZEC had ordered a recount of Tsholotsho North and Mudzi South ballot papers, which was won by independent candidate Jonathan Samkange.
However, the electoral body has since reversed its order for the recount of Mudzi South ballot papers after Samkange challenged the decision.