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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles


  • Zimbabwe Constitution Referendum report and implications for the next elections - Advance Copy
    Zimbabwe Election Support Network
    April 25, 2013

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    Executive Summary

    A referendum is a direct democracy procedure that provides for a vote by the electorate on critical national issues and as such includes citizens in decision making. Referendums in Zimbabwe are currently regulated by the Referendum Act, Chapter 2: 10, which came into force on the 11th of January 2000 as part of the preparations for the first Constitutional referendum that yielded a ‘NO’ vote outcome. The political landscape of Zimbabwe since attaining political independence in 1980 has been a complex one. The current Constitution has been amended nineteen times since the Lancaster House Conference. As part of the measures to restore stability and to pave the way for credible elections, political parties in the government of national unity were mandated by article 6 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to craft a new constitution for Zimbabwe.

    On the 16th March 2013, the people of Zimbabwe voted in a historic Referendum for the New Constitution for their country, the second time they have done so since achieving independence in 1980. The first time was in February 2000 when citizens rejected the draft constitution but 13 years later, they overwhelmingly endorsed the draft supreme law. This paves the way for the enactment of the draft into the substantive new constitution for the country, signaling the end of a long and rugged road. This also clears the way for the anticipated watershed elections before the end of the year, bringing to an end a fragile coalition government.

    The draft constitution followed a protracted and highly contested process led by the Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee (COPAC) drawn from Members of a two chamber Parliament of Zimbabwe in April 2009. COPAC reflected the composition of the 7th Parliament (2008-2013) in terms of the three parties to the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008 (Zanu-PF, MDC-T and MDC).

    ZESN observed the Referendum and was able to draw lessons and recommendation which are outlined in this report. This report gives a background to the Constitutional reform process in Zimbabwe, tracing developments from 1980 to the current state. The report makes an analysis of the legal framework pertaining to elections in Zimbabwe. It also contains observations made by the network on Referendum day.

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