By Peta Thornycroft
One of the authors of Zimbabwe's new electoral laws says next week's scheduled recount of 23 constituencies will be illegal.
Welshman Ncube, one of two Movement for Democratic Change negotiators who spent much of 2007 locked into rewriting some of Zimbabwe's contentious laws with Zanu-PF during SA-mediated "dialogues", on Sunday said Zanu-PF complaints were "concoctions after the fact, to be compliant with the law".
President Robert Mugabe is widely believed to have lost the presidential election by at least 7 percent and has delayed releasing the results for more than two weeks so that the vote can be "massaged".
However, Judge George Chiweshe, head of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), claimed on Sunday that Zanu-PF candidates in 23 constituencies had lodged complaints within the prescribed 48 hours after the polls closed, and therefore had not broken the Electoral Act.
The results of the parliamentary elections were public by April 1, having been posted outside polling stations and collected by civic and opposition workers.
No statement was issued by the electoral commission about the complaints nor were competing candidates informed. This is the first anyone outside of the commission or Zanu-PF has heard about the complaints.
According to Judge Chiweshe, "we sat as a commission and considered them (the applications).
"I can't tell you when we did this at this moment we received them, that is why we ordered recounts we didn't have to tell the world. Why should we? We are not obliged by law to do that.
"Are you calling me a liar?" he wanted to know.
Ncube labelled Chiweshe a "blatant liar and a fraudster".
"The ZEC is acting in collusion with Zanu-PF and if they think any of us will believe them when they are a gang of fraudsters, then they can go to hell.
"They are such brazen liars and they have had custody of the ballot boxes for more than two weeks. There is no guarantee that they didn't go back and tamper with the ballot boxes, so the outcome of the recount is a foregone conclusion."
He said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won a clear majority, which was why the results were not released.
MDC secretary for legal affairs David Coltart said: "We have asked for proof the complaints were submitted within the 48-hour period.
"The delay between the expiry of the 48-hour period and the writing of the letters of complaint by ZEC is inexplicable, unreasonable.
"The only inference one can draw from the delay is that the commission has connived with Zanu-PF and therefore acted illegally.
"One would have expected the ZEC would immediately have notified all interested parties, but they took nine days to do so.
"This is a brazen subversion of the Electoral Act."
Last week a senior policeman with at least 20 years' experience told The Star that ballot boxes from a Midlands constituency, now due for a recount on Saturday, were brought into police headquarters in Harare on the morning of April 5.
He said five or six young recruits took ballots for the presidential election, marked for Tsvangirai, and replaced them with duplicate ballots marked with an X for Mugabe.
Zanu-PF must win back nine seats to regain parliament.