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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Zimbabwe Briefing - Issue 105
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    March 21, 2013

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    SADC makes recommendations for Zim elections

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM) on Sunday evening March 17, 2013, a day after voting had closed in the Zimbabwe constitutional referendum made recommendations for the forthcoming elections in the capital Harare. SADC Observer Mission Head Hon. Bernard K. Membe, the Tanzanian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, addressed the post-referendum preliminary assessment briefing. He addressed on behalf of Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Tanzanian President Jakaya M. Kikwete.

    The event was attended by SADC Executive Secretary Dr. Tomaz Sa-lomao, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Samuel Mumbengegwi, ZEC Chairperson Justice Rita Mukarau, COPAC Co-Vice Chairperson Hon. Jessie Majome, Ministers in the Inclusive Government, members of the Civil Society and international dignitaries among others.

    The regional bloc’s electoral observer noted some positives in the referendum voting. However the Observer Mission made significant recommendations, which they shared with Zimbabweans ahead of the forthcoming elections. “Encourage the establishment of a mechanism through which funds for elections could be timely availed; en-courage the update of the voters’ roll in time for elections; Encourage continuous voter education,” the Observer Mission said.

    The Mission revealed in its preliminary assessment of the referendum the concerns raised by various stakeholders, who include political parties and civil society, including the failure by the authorities to timeously provide resources to Zimbabwe Electoral Com-mission (ZEC).

    On the cases of violence witnessed during the Referendum, the Mission said:

    “The SEOM noted reports of isolated cases of intimidation and harassment in some areas and in particular in Mbare, Harare. The SEOM condemn these acts of violence and pledge to law enforcement agents to objectively deal with these matters as they arise.” Further concerns raised were to do with insufficient copies of the draft as well as time to read them, and inaccessibility of some polling stations. The Mission noted that, although there had been some concerns, they did not soil the credibility of the referendum.

    “The Mission is pleased to share its findings and observations with the people of Zimbabwe and all relevant stakeholders. In general, the Mission observed that the polling process was conducted in a peaceful, transparent and smooth manner.

    “The Mission has come to the conclusion that although some of the concerns raised are pertinent, they are, nevertheless, not of such magnitude as to affect the credibility of the overall Referendum. Membe concluded by saying the referendum holding “is a major step in the implementation of the GPA and I therefore would like to take this opportunity to encourage the political leader-ship and all the people of Zimbabwe to uphold peace and stability as we are waiting for the white smoke.”

    The billowing of the white smoke is traditionally used to announce that a new Roman Catholic Pope has been successfully chosen in the Vatican, as happened recently when the new Pope Francis I replaced Benedict VI. The Tanzanian Foreign Minister could have used it to mean the emergence of a winner after the forthcoming harmonized elections later in the year. Though important in its own right, many people had taken the referendum as a test run for the coming elections. The Crisis Coalition Spokesperson and Bulawayo Agenda Director Thabani Nyoni evaluated that sentiment. “It was a test run to the elections to some extent. It brought out important issues like ZEC’s preparedness.

    “Do not read too much into the political parties agreeing because they agreed to the draft constitution for different reasons. That is why you find political parties which were all campaigning for a Yes vote fighting in such areas as Mbare and over where to popularize the draft.

    “It’s however difficult to conclude whether it is a true indicator because the voter’s roll was not being used and the process was therefore more accessible and faster in terms of voting. The elections are likely to be more hotly contested, the space closed and violence will be prominent judging by the referendum.”

    The Observer Mission had deployed 12 teams comprising of 78 observers, drawn from regional Members of Parliament and civil society across the country during the referendum, who had arrived in Zimbabwe, six days before voting, on March 10.

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