Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
ZESN’s pre-referendum press statement
Election Support Network
March 15, 2013
Election Support Network (ZESN), a network of 31 non-governmental
organisations working on the promotion of democratic elections in
Zimbabwe is observing the referendum set for tomorrow 16 March 2013.
ZESN is deploying approximately 600 observers across the country,
drawn from some of its member organisations.
This referendum, which is a culmination of efforts by the Government
of National Unity (GNU) to draft
a new constitution according to the demands of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA), is an historic moment for Zimbabwe.
ZESN therefore encourages all citizens to go out and exercise their
right to vote in the referendum regardless of how they intend to
vote. ZESN is a strictly non-partisan organisation and as a network
takes no position on the merits or demerits of the draft new constitution.
Our role is simply to observe the process in order to help ensure
that all Zimbabweans can freely exercise their right to vote.
ZESN notes that, the referendum will go ahead tomorrow amid concerns
regarding the timing, funding, and lack of adequate awareness campaigns
undertaken nationwide on the contents of the draft. ZESN hopes that
despite the aforementioned problems, ZEC will be able to deliver
a credible referendum. Already ZEC has conducted two observer briefings
and ZESN would like to commend the Commission for the briefings
which provided essential guidelines for observing the referendum.
However, ZESN notes with concern some of the new regulations introduced
by ZEC. For instance, there is now a limitation on the number of
observers allowed in a polling station at any given period. ZESN
believes that this will imply that at some point our observers will
be asked to leave the polling station or rotate with other observers
and this will compromise observation methodologies of local observers
who must normally observe the whole process from opening till counting.
It would be rational if this provision was only applicable for regional
and international observers who will be roaming from one polling
station to another. We urge ZEC to urgently reconsider this decision
to enable local observers to carry out a comprehensive polling observation
exercise to enable them to report empirically.
On the issue of mobile phones, ZESN has noted the explanation given
by ZEC that these could be used to intimidate voters. However, observers
should be allowed to discretely use their phones at polling stations
as long as they do not interfere with the voting process. It is
against this backdrop that we strongly deplore the continued introduction
of new regulations as noted in the two observer briefings. We believe
such spontaneous additions create an atmosphere of uncertainty which
might culminate in the loss of confidence in the Commission as well
as the whole electoral process.
ZESN is concerned by the refusal
to accredit ZimRights
and the Director of the Zimbabwe
Peace Project (ZPP), Ms Jestina Mukoko who is also a Board member
of ZESN, citing that they are “under police probe”.
Given that the two organisations have not been pronounced guilty
in the courts of law, and there is a constitutional right to be
presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty, ZESN strongly
urges ZEC to accredit these organisations to avoid the appearance
of taking the law into its own hands. The ZEC should let the courts
decide on the merit of the cases against these organisations.
In pursuit of its legitimate mandate to promote a democratic electoral
environment and processes, ZESN will be observing the entire polling
process in the different provinces across the country. ZESN encourages
Zimbabweans to participate peacefully in this process and to exercise
their democratic right. ZESN has also set up hotlines for the citizens
to share their views and comments about the referendum and its contact
numbers will be: 0774584669, 0715596701, and 0738918420. Citizens
can also participate on our social media platforms such as Facebook
As part of its obligation to gather and disseminate credible information
ZESN will make every effort to provide credible, objective and unbiased
information of the referendum processes and outcomes. ZESN intends
on making is preliminary statement on the conduct of the Referendum
on Sunday morning 17 March 2013.
Visit the ZESN
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.