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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Inclusive government - Index of articles
  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles


  • Referendum report
    Zimbabwe Election Support Network
    March 16, 2013

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    Executive summary

    Zimbabwe held its constitutional referendum on the 16th of March 2013. The Referendum came as a consequence of Article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which mandated parties in the inclusive government to facilitate the writing of a citizen driven constitution. The political parties in the inclusive government were namely Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC.

    ZESN observed the entire process that led to the drafting of the new constitution. It was clear that the parties in the inclusive government had problems starting the process as it was delayed by over 12 months. Once the process started the parties had difficulty agreeing on the issues that needed to be key in the constitution hence the continuous haggling and stops starts that characterized the writing of the new constitution. After much anxiety about whether Zimbabwe would have a new constitution, the Select Committee published a draft which was to be put to referendum. The draft was not without problems as for a while there was confusion about which was the correct Parliamentary Select Committee draft given the many drafts that had been “leaked.” This was the environment that characterized the writing of the new constitution.

    During the run-up to the Referendum there was a disturbing pattern of intimidation against civic organizations involved in citizen election observation. These incidents were condemned by ZESN and other CSOs particularly given the timing as they painted and confirmed that the political environment prevailing in the run-up to the referendum was unfavourable.

    In order to observe the process, ZESN had three levels of observers deployed on Election Day. These included 210 polling station observers were deployed in the country’s 210 constituencies. These observers also observed collating at the constituency level. In addition were 118 supervisors who were mobile whose main role was to support the polling station observers. The last level of observers were polling station observers who utilized a checklist which guided how they would observe.

    The referendum day was generally peaceful with a significant portion of Zimbabwe going out to vote. ZESN observers reported compliance on many levels including ballot papers stamped with the ZEC seal being issued and voters’ fingers marked with indelible ink. Observers at polling stations reported that voters without a proper ID identifying their citizenship were not permitted to vote. Campaigning within 100 metres of polling stations was not permitted and there were no incidents of violence or intimidation or attempts to disrupt the process. In addition, the processing of voters was efficient which reduced waiting time for most voters. However, ZESN received some reports of unauthorized persons inside the polling station as well problems with assisted voters being unable to select the person who would assist them to vote.

    The report is an analysis of the conduct of the Constitutional Referendum which the Zimbabwe Election Support Network observed. The report makes an analysis of events building up to the Constitutional Referendum and the referendum on the 16th of March 2013. These events include the untimely resignation of the then Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe.

    The report details the observation methodology utilized by the network and analysis of the Referendum Day processes including arrival, set-up of polling stations, voting, counting and results. From the referendum, ZESN learnt a number of lessons and proffers the following recommendation:

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