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Observation report on the Constitutional Referendum
for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ)
March 18, 2013
The Centre for
Community Development In Zimbabwe (CCDZ) was accredited by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) on the 14th March to observe the Constitutional
Referendum which was held on the 16th March, 2013. CCDZ deployed
its team of observers to observe the voting process in Harare, Mashonaland
East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Harare and Midlands
provinces. CCDZ observers were deployed in the following districts:
Karoi, Hurungwe, Chinhoyi, Murewa, Mutoko, Mudzi, Wedza, Kwekwe,Gokwe
and Marondera. The CCDZ team of observers received a briefing in
Harare before they were deployed to their respective areas to observe
the constitutional plebiscite. The observer team was asked to observe
and report on the following:
levels of awareness and participation by the generality of citizens
in the referendum:
The voting process
went smoothly in the majority of the above districts except a few
instances where political parties bussed in people to cast their
ballots in some farming communities. The conduct of ZEC officials
was highly commendable at all the polling stations observed.
There was high
voter turnout in some rural and farming communities largely due
to bloc voting and high political party activity on the voting day.
Higher voter turnout was also noted in high density residential
areas and Central Business District areas; as opposed to peri-urban
and low density residential areas. Statistics show that men came
in greater numbers as compared to women and youths. The highest
number of male voters was recorded in CBD and rural areas, whilst
farming and communal areas recorded higher number of female voters.
MDC-T and ZANU-PF councilors and Members of Parliament
assisted their supporters through organizing transport and other
logistics including food for the voters in certain areas. In polling
centres in the farming areas in the outskirts of Marondera, people
were bussed in, that is, they were taken to polling stations in
tractors and other modes of transport to cast their ballots. This
led to long queues at Winimbe polling station in Marondera East
Constituency. The same was recorded at Muchbinding in Magunje Constituency.
In some but
mostly urban areas that were observed by CCDZ, there was voter apathy
which CCDZ attributes to confusion over the merits or demerits of
the Constitutional draft. The majority of people said they had not
had sight of the Constitutional Draft
and it was folly to either embrace or reject that which they did
not know. One youth in Murewa said: "To vote 'Yes' or 'No'
to what? I have not seen the Constitution; I have only heard politicians
and journalists talking about it".
The level of
awareness of the Constitutional Draft and its contents was very
minimal in all the areas covered. CCDZ noted that the highest levels
of ignorance were amongst the youth and women; whilst political
party members had average knowledge levels of the Draft. The majority
of people in the areas did not know about the provisions of the
draft charter. Some simply said they were voting because their Principal
in the Government of National Unity (GNU) and other leaders of their
respective parties had urged them to vote "Yes". "We
are voting Yes because that is our party's position", remarked
one woman in Mutoko. Others told CCDZ observers that they had come
across a little bit of information on the Draft on the radio, newspapers
and posters; however they highlighted that they were not conversant
with the contents of the draft. It was however interesting to note
that members of the public had high knowledge levels of the location
of their polling stations.
of the constitution-making process was glaring as MDC-T and ZANU-PF
sought to outwit each other on the voting day. Partisan voting patterns
were evident as people came to the polling stations in groups either
as woman, men and youths who are of the same political affiliations
or understanding. "We want to see who between us (MDC-T) and
ZANU-PF is able to mobilize more people to vote in the Constitutional
referendum', said one MDC-T supporter.
The CCDZ observers
reported cases of disenfranchisement of Zimbabwean citizens of foreign
descent who are classified as 'aliens'. The 'aliens' were turned
away at most polling stations because they were not eligible to
vote. The issue of 'aliens' remains topical and it is believed that
if the new Charter is adopted the people classified as 'aliens'
will have full citizenship rights restored including their suffrage
right so that they are not excluded in future elections. CCDZ observers
however noted high levels of professionalism amongst ZEC officials
as they explained this to voters that were turned away. Other voters
that were turned away included voters whose identity documentation
was not clear, as well as voters who had drivers licenses and not
national identity documents.
issues highlighted above, the voting process sailed smoothly. The
ZEC officials managed to conduct their duties in a professional
manner as stipulated in the Referendum Act. The polling centres
in the areas visited opened on time; they were adequately resourced
in terms of personnel, ballot papers and security. All the polling
centres visited opened for voting at 7am and closed at 7pm, allowing
people adequate time to cast their votes. Unlike in previous elections,
the polling stations were easily accessible and voters did not have
to walk long distances to cast their votes.
that the political environment on the pre-election day as well as
on the voting day was in all the 3 Mashonaland provinces was free
and peaceful. There were isolated incidences of intimidation and
harassment in some areas.
On the morning
of the 17th of March 2013, CCDZ observers came across an isolated
incident of 11 MDC-T activists who came to the Karoi command centre
and asked to see the person in charge and demanded to be given the
results. They were however told that during the referendum there
were no political party representatives.
CCDZ also noted
that in Wedza North Constituency, Traditional Leaders were mobilizing
people to go and vote. At Chirume polling station, one village head
Mafere, who is also a war veteran was summoning people after they
have cast a vote and record their names. The local Member of Parliament
Munyeyi Gibson later addressed voters outside the polling station.
iii. Voting Process:
that ZEC officers were organized, efficient, professional and helpful
in their conduct in Mashonaland East, West and Central provinces.
CCDZ noticed that the average time spent per voter in all the provinces
was one and a half minutes.
were issues that they were not sure, polling officers would refer
to their Returning officer. In Chinhoyi, Lion's Den and Hurungwe,
CCDZ observers noted a high level of professionalism by ZEC officials;
with officials referring to their Training Manuals to verify matters
that they were unsure of.
noted that the majority of ZEC officials were friendly and they
cooperated with CCDZ observers. This was the case in areas such
as Bindura, Marondera, Wedza, Chinhoyi, Lion's Den, Mhangura and
Hurungwe.ZEC officials even volunteered information that wasn't
necessarily asked for by observers. However, CCDZ observers experienced
hostility from returning officers and police officers at Mlichi
Farm and Dixie polling station in Hurungwe. Some polling station
officers were not sure what to do with observers, or what the procedure
was for admitting observers into their polling stations. iv. Adherence
to the legal framework:
noted general adherence to the legal framework, save for the following
of police officers inside polling station
noted that at (23 + 16+ 21+ 16 + 7) polling stations in Mashonaland
West and Central provinces, there were at least two police officers
present inside the polling stations of the presence of police officers
at all polling stations except for four. These police officers were
permanently stationed inside the polling stations in contravention
of Section 55 (7) which provides that the sole function of police
officers is to maintain order and exercise their duties under the
direction and instruction of the presiding officer. CCDZ observers
made inquiries with the returning officers and were told that they
were not aware that police officers were required to be outside
the polling centres unless required to be inside by the returning
officers taking down names of assisted voters, voters that are turned
away and observers entering polling stations
also noted that police officers inside polling stations in Hurungwe
East, Central and West Constituency took down the names of assisted
voters and voters that are turned away in separate notebooks. CCDZ
observers in Mashonaland West and Central were also interrogated
by some police officers inside polling stations. These police officers
took down the names and identification numbers of CCDZ observers
in their notebooks. CCDZ notes with concern that such actions are
not sanctioned by the Electoral
noted that ZEC officials were very helpful and assisted voters that
required assistance with voting in a professional and friendly manner.
At Mbuyanehanda polling station in Marondera only one person was
assisted to vote by 10 am.
Personnel in Command Centres
noticed that the office of the President and ZANU-PF members were
represented at Karoi at Matau, Magungje and Karoi Command Centres.
CCDZ also observed the presence of 8 known ZANU-PF youth activists
in the Magunje Command Centre who were accredited. There were no
representatives from other political parties. They stated that their
role was that of logistics. At Nzvimbo Command Centre (Mazowe) there
was a ZANU PF representative who is a sitting Councillor in the
command centre; other political parties were not represented. CCDZ
observers also noted that the representatives of the office of the
President were in regular communication with ZANU PF and providing
them with information on the voting results. This is a disadvantage
to other political parties.
CCDZ is worried
about voter apathy which characterised some constituencies particularly
in the urban areas. Without adequate voter education there is a
high possibility of low voter turnout in future elections. We therefore
implore the electoral management body, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
to accredit organizations willing to provide voter education and
encourage people to participate in the forthcoming elections. The
levels of participation of men, women and youths in the voting process
goes far in fulfilling the democratizing function of elections.
CCDZ implores ZEC to work collaboratively with Civil Society Organizations
(CSOs) that are willing and have capacity to provide voter education
to raise voter rights awareness among the generality of Zimbabweans.
The state security agencies particularly the Zimbabwe Republic Police
should execute their duties in a professional and non-partisan manner.
The intimidation and harassment of Civil Society organizations (CSOs)
epitomized by the disruption of meetings, office raids and incarceration
of human rights defenders (HRDs) affected the operations of many
organizations who wanted to mobilize voters to exercise their right
to participate in the constitutional referendum. We urge the law
enforcement agencies to exercise their duties in a professional
manner in the forthcoming elections.
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