The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, under fire from nearly all directions for failing to deliver the results of the country's March presidential election for a month, said it will begin "verification" of those results with candidates and parties on Thursday.
Electoral Commission Chairman George Chiweshe, a former judge, said on Saturday that his panel would wrap up its compilation of presidential returns on Monday, after which it would begin consultations with presidential candidates and their agents seeking agreement by all parties to the results ZEC has come up with.
As of Tuesday however there was no sign of the promised "verification," though the commission announced on state radio that it would begin on Thursday.
For perspective on this latest delay, reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director Xolani Zitha, who said that the integrity of the electoral commission has by now been badly compromised.
Senior officials of the respected Zimbabwe Election Support Network, meanwhile, faced further interrogation by police. Officers from the law and order section of the Zimbabwe Republic Police questioned ZESN Chairman Noel Kututwa and National Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava about a document allegedly written by Tendai Biti, secretary general of the opposition formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
The document purportedly provided evidence of collusion between ZESN and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to rig the March elections.
Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said the document, published in the state-controlled Herald newspaper last week, is a forgery.
Chamisa noted that further reference to the document would be libelous because MDC lawyers have already warned the Herald or anyone else publishing the document that it is false.The Herald has retracted the article in question.
Chamisa denied that his party worked with ZESN during the elections, saying that the government is doing all it can to harass the opposition and civic groups.
ZESN Chairman Noel Kututwa told reporter Carole Gombakomba that although police have seized documents from ZESN’s offices and Chipfunde-Vava's home, they are still demanding financial documents and written statements on ZESN’s election role.
ZESN fielded some 11,000 election monitors for the March ballots. Most observers consider it to be scrupulously nonpartisan in its approach to monitoring.