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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles


  • Statement by The Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and Head of The SEOM to Zimbabwe Referendum
    Hon. Bernard Kamillius Membe, SADC
    March 10, 2013

    THE ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION;

    THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF SADC, DR TOMAZ SALOMAO;

    YOUR EXCELLENCIES, HEADS OF MISSIONS ACCREDITED TO THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS;

    THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT ON THE NEW CONSTITUTION;

    ELECTION OBSERVER MISSIONS TO THE REPUBLIC OF ZIMBABWE;

    ESTEEMED MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA; AND

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

    Following the announcement and subsequent invitation to SADC for participation in the 16 March 2013 Referendum, I wish to formally announce the arrival of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) to the Zimbabwe Referendum scheduled for 16 March 2013.

    SADC in its endeavor for regional integration is the determination to strengthen and consolidate our relatively young democracies in our Member States into practical and tangible benefits for our citizens in the region. The referendum process is one such clear form that provides for the participation of our citizens governance and most importantly, in the expressing their views in the constitution ultimately ensuring the sustainable constitution that will remain unshakable.

    The launch ceremony symbolizes the formal engagement of the Mission to the referendum process in Zimbabwe; SADC through its various structures and framework has been constantly in touch with the political stakeholders in Zimbabwe. The SADC Missions represented in Zimbabwe are the region's forerunners in this endeavour and have since been engaged with issues relating to the Constitutional Referendum and the electoral process thereof.

    SADC as a regional block is pleased to note that the Global Political Agreement a (GPA) signed by the Political stakeholders in this country continue to make considerable strides to the fulfillment of the objectives as set.

    This Constitutional referendum scheduled for the 16 March 2013 clearly demonstrates movement from signed declarations into tangible results to the benefit of the Zimbabwean citizens. Furthermore, the referendum will ensure the inclusion of the political stakeholders indicating a major milestone towards the realisation of a stable political environment.

    It is heartening to note that Global Political Agreement principals have amicably resolved the outstanding issues on the new draft constitution, thus clearing the path for the referendum that we anticipate today.

    The observation of the referendum Exercise by the SEOM is intended to ensure the credibility and just referendum process that will ensure that the ordinary citizens especially, cast their opinion on the Constitution in an environment that will ensure a fair vote. The Constitution being a tool for sustainable governance and development of the country will require that every view is taken on board for an inclusive society in all spheres.

    The observation exercise will involve the intensive collection of information related to the referendum process. As a regional observer team, we are guided by our various instruments which include, the Treaty, the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, as well the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and most importantly the legislation obtaining in Zimbabwe. The instruments mentioned not only provide guide for shared political values among others but also is a commitment by our Member States to ensure that the citizens are granted an honest and rigorous opinion making process.

    As you may recall, the SEOM was last engaged in the electoral observation exercise in 2008 and the mission in the same light undertake to a rigorous and systematic assessment of the electoral process by way of observation and ensure the minimum thresholds and adherence to the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections which remain our benchmark. The following among others include the checklist and scope of the operation of the SEOM:

    1. Constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and rights of the citizens;
    2. Conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections;
    3. Non-discrimination in the voters' registration;
    4. Existence of updated and accessible voters roll;
    5. Timeous announcement of the election date;
    6. Where applicable, funding of political parties must be transparent and based on agreed threshold in accordance with the laws of the land;
    7. Polling Stations should be in neutral places;
    8. Counting of the votes at polling stations;
    9. Establishment of the mechanism for assisting the planning and deployment of electoral observation missions; and

    At this juncture i wish to acknowledge the honour and privilege accorded to the SEOM by the people of Zimbabwe in allowing and trusting the engagement of the SEOM in this referendum process. I wish to state at this point that the SEOM will commit to the work as required by the people of Zimbabwe and will ensure the fulfillment of the expected effect as guided by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Election.

    Your Excellencies, ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to speak to encourage all the Zimbabwean citizens to turn out for the Referendum on the 16 March 2013 and add their voice to the making of the Constitution of this land.

    The SEOM will also appeal to all the stakeholders to this referendum to exercise tolerance and restraint.

    The SEOM will have its observers deployed across the ten (10) provinces in Zimbabwe. The Observer teams deployed will in turn channel the information for a thorough processing and analysis that will include verification of facts amongst the various stakeholders as well as the ordinary observers. In addition to the SADC observers, the Mission is mindful of the local as well as other observer missions that are engaged with the electoral process and as such, the SEOM will as a matter of principle seek to collaborate efforts with the other missions.

    The Office of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to the Zimbabwe Referendum will engage and call on the stakeholders for consultative purposes.

    With these remarks, I wish to announce on behalf of the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete that the SADC Electoral Observer Mission of the 16 March 2013 Referendum in the Republic of Zimbabwe, officially launched.

    Thank you for your attention!

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