“To this day, Chamisa has not given the public the promised V11.”

By Prof. Jonathan Moyo

In 2018, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-A) did not have polling agents—hence no V11s—in at least 518 out of 10,985 polling stations; in 2023, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) did not have polling agents—meaning no V11s—in at least 2,500 out of 12,374 polling stations.

Because V11s are given to polling agents who are inside the polling station during and after vote counting and following the confirmation of the polling station results by the presiding officer, and because V11s are also effectively published by being affixed and displayed outside the polling station, not having polling agents at a polling station means not getting the V11 of that polling station.

To make matters worse, and because CCC is not a political party, going by its own self-description, and therefore does not have ground-based political structures, it was not able to use local structures to get pictures of V11s affixed and displayed outside at least 2,500 polling stations.

When CCC did its internal parallel vote tabulation (private) of the result for the presidential election based on the insufficient number of V11s it had, CCC leader Nelson Chamisa trailed President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This was compounded by the fact that CCC failed to field polling agents at the said polling stations.

CCC’s failure to deploy polling agents in at least 2,500 polling stations scuppered not only @PacheduZW's (private for 'Mandla'), but it also scuppered that of the EU, both of which had put their private eggs in CCC’s basket of polling agents; hence, the failure of the CCC became the failure of both PacheduZW and the European Union (EU).

Stung by CCC’s failure, the EU sought to bailout both CCC and PacheduZW by abusing its partial funding of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), hoping to access V11s through the EU Election Observer Mission in Zimbabwe 2023 (EUEOMZIM2023) under the preposterous claim that the EU observers wanted to establish the “verifiability and traceability of ZEC’s results management process”.

The EU shamelessly claimed, with the arrogance of an imperial power steeped in extractive neo-colonial exploitation and a brutal history of colonialism in Africa that, "Moreover, in the past couple of days, our observers noted that the results management process by ZEC lacked verifiability and traceability. And we regret that ZEC did not receive our delegation despite several requests from our side, taking into consideration the substantial technical and financial contribution that the European Union gave to this election”.

This is a bald and meaningless statement made by an EUEOMZIM2023 that had a paltry 46 observers who arrived in July 2023 and another mere 44 that was deployed on August 20, 2023, to cover an election that had some 150,000 electoral officers running an election with 12,374 polling stations, encompassing 6,623,511 voters distributed in 210 constituencies and 1970 wards in 10 provinces, whose candidates were 11 presidential, 518 national assembly sponsored by political parties and 64 independents, 4,648 local authority sponsored by political parties and 266 independents, with 91 local authority wards won by Zanu PF uncontested.

The bald claim that the 46 EU election observers who arrived in July 2023 or the 44 who were deployed on August 20, 2023, found that Zimbabwe’s electoral process lacked "verifiability and traceability” is preposterous.

The management process for verifying and tracing election results is decided by or dependent on ZEC but is established and defined in the Electoral Act in sections 37(4)C, 64, 65, 65A, 65B, and 110(3).

These sections establish five electoral centres, each with a distinct election return, and provide for the collation of results for the three harmonised elections, the transmission of the collated results to and between the five electoral centres, and the declaration of the election of councillors at 1,970 ward collation centres; the election of constituency MPs at 210 constituency centres; the election of 10 youth quotas, 60 women quotas, and 60 senators, all based on proportional representation, at 10 provincial command centres; and the election of the president at the national command centre.

Each of the five electoral centres has a verifiable and traceable election return. Polling Station: V11 [12,374]; Ward Collation Centre: V23A [1,970]; Constituency Centre: V23B [210; 209 in 2023]; Provincial Command Centre: V23C [10]; National Command Centre: V23D [1]

By electoral law, presiding officers affixed and displayed V11s for local authority, parliamentary and presidential election candidates outside each of the 12,374 polling stations; ward elections officers displayed V23As for local election winners, and for parliamentary and presidential election ward results outside each of the 1,970 ward centres; constituency elections officers displayed V23Bs for constituency MP winners and for the presidential election candidates outside each of the 209 constituency centres; provincial election officers displayed V23Cs outside each of the 10 provincial centres for winners of proportional representation senators, youth and women quotas, and of the results for the presidential election; and the Chief Elections Officer displayed the V23D – along with 209 V23Bs certified and hand delivered in terms of section 110(3) of the Electoral Act – at the national command centre for the winner of the presidential election.

The above process constitutes a prescribed chain of verifiability and traceability of the results for each of the three elections that make up Zimbabwe’s harmonised general elections. To claim, as has been done by EUOMZIM 2023, that the process is not verifiable or traceable is nonsensical.

All that a political party or candidate needs to do is deploy the requisite number of polling or election agents at each of the five electoral centres, depending on the election in question.

By law, there’s no other way for third parties like the EU, PacheduZW, or political parties or candidates to verify or trace the election results outside the function of polling or election agents.

In terms of Zimbabwean electoral law and legal practice, it is impossible to verify or trace the result of any of the country’s three elections in a harmonised general election without reference to the relevant V11s for that election. The V11s are the primary, must-have election returns. So, why is the EU claiming that the electoral process lacked "verifiability and traceability”?

It’s because, like PacheduZW and everyone else in the regime change bandwagon, they were counting and relying on the fiction that CCC was going to field polling agents at all 12, 374 polling stations, 1,970 ward collation centres, 209 constituencies, 10 provincial command centres, and at the national command centre. But as things turned out, without round structures in the country's villages and streets, CCC failed to deploy polling agents in at least 2,500 polling stations.

Put differently, CCC did not have, and thus does not have, at least 2,500 V11s out of 12,374 polling stations that were setup for the harmonised general election. When CCC collated the insufficient V11s it had, Nelson Chamisa was trailing Emmerson Mnangagwa.

And when at least 2,500 V11s could not be obtained from at least 2,500 polling stations because CCC did not have polling agents at those polling stations, Chamisa’s case crumbled on the incompetence or inability of his structureless outfit.

This is why the CCC could not go to the Constitutional Court. In 2018, the Constitutional Court set out the legal requirements for a challenge to a declared presidential election result, and, without at least 2,500 V11s from 12,374 polling stations—and with the insufficient V11s that he had showing him trailing—Chamasa had no legal case to take to the Constitutional Court.

In fact, he had no case to take even to the court of public opinion, where he promised to deliver V11s that supposedly showed that he won. To this day, Chamisa has not given the public even one V11.

So, because CCC did not have polling agents to collect V11s from at least 2,500 polling stations, the EU does not have the requisite V11s to verify and trace the result of the presidential election.

No election result can be traced without the relevant V11s that are attached to the relevant V23As, V23Bs, V23Cs, and V23Ds, in the case of the presidential election. As a last resort, and out of desperation and frustration, the EU thought it could use its neocolonial funding of ZEC to pull donor strings and blackmail ZEC into sharing its internal data.  In other words, the EU wanted to bribe its way into ZEC's management systems, not as EUEOMZIM2023 but as EU, the donor. This is why the EU case is outrageous, and an affront to Zimbabwe’s sovereignty. It sought to wear two hats: one as an election observer, and the other as a contributory funder of the same election.

There’s a clear and present conflict of interest; when the EU’s election observation mission could not get at least 2,500 V11s that CCC did not have; the EU observers reverted to the EU to use its funding to get the V11s from ZEC for CCC via the backdoor; and not from polling stations where the V11s were given to polling agents and were also affixed and displayed outside every polling station.

It is not right for any country or for a group of countries like the European Union to be an election observer mission and a funder of one and the same election, not least because this creates a nasty conflict of interest. The case of the EU interference with ZEC is a wakeup call, not just for Zimbabwe but for all African countries, and the global south in general. The former colonisers who denied Africans the right to vote and triggered freedom struggles only yesterday, must not be allowed to comeback today as observers and funders of elections in the decolonising countries. Elections must be a total no go area for former colonizers: no observation and no funding!