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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Referendum - Observers and media practitioners - accreditation - Constitution Watch 12/2013
    March 05, 2013

    Read Constitution Watch 13/2013 and 16/2013 for more information on accreditation of observers.

    The Referendum - Observers and Media Practitioners

    Part I - Accreditation

    Referendum Observers

    Accredited observers will be allowed to observe Referendum processes, including being present in polling stations and at the subsequent counting and collation of ballot papers. The accreditation process is as laid down in Part IXB of the Electoral Act. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC] is responsible for accreditation, and has already called for applications from or on behalf of would-be observers.

    Who can be an Observer?

    The following persons can be accredited as observers:

    a) individuals representing foreign countries or international organisations and foreign eminent persons who have applied for accreditation

    b) individuals representing local organisations and eminent persons from within Zimbabwe who have applied for accreditation

    c) individuals representing bodies similar to ZEC in other countries which have been invited by ZEC to observe the Referendum

    d) individuals representing foreign countries or international organisations and foreign eminent persons who have been invited by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to observe the Referendum

    e) individuals representing local organisations and eminent persons who have been invited by the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs to observe the Referendum.

    Applications for accreditation

    There is no special prescribed application form. A application for accreditation must be made in writing to ZEC’s Chief Elections Officer, either by:

    • the individual or eminent person wishing to be accredited, or
    • the organisation wishing to have representatives accredited, or
    • the Minister of Foreign Affairs or the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs in respect of persons invited by them.

    An organisation or Minister making an application must state the names of the individuals to be accredited and ID number or other identification details.

    ZEC contact details

    Delivery: ZEC Headquarters, corner Jason Moyo Avenue and Kaguvi Street, Harare

    Telephone numbers: Harare 759130, 774095 or 781903

    Fax: 781903 or 770660

    Email: or

    Observers Accreditation Committee

    ZEC’s Observers Accreditation Committee [see below for the composition of the Committee] will consider all applications for accreditation and the Commission’s own list of individuals representing foreign Electoral Commissions that it wants to be accredited. The Committee must “pay due regard” to any objections lodged by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the accreditation of any foreign individual or eminent person. Paying due regard does not mean that every objection must be accepted, only that the objection must be taken into account before a decision is reached.

    The Committee will make recommendations to the full Commission, which has the final say on accreditation and can overrule the Committee’s decisions. It is important to note that a Committee recommendation will be presumed to be the Commission’s decision unless the Commission rejects it within 48 hours [Electoral Act, section 40I].

    Membership of Observers Accreditation Committee

    The seven-member Committee consists of three ZEC commissioners and four representatives of the Executive [Electoral Act, section 40H]. ZEC has published the following details:

    Chairperson: ZEC chairperson [currently filled by acting chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe following Justice Mtambanengwe’s recent resignation].

    ZEC commissioners: Professor Geoff Feltoe and Dr Petty Makoni

    Members from Government [individuals not yet named]:

    • President’s Office nominee
    • Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs’ nominee
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs’ nominee
    • Minister of Home Affairs’ nominee.

    Note: If a new ZEC chairperson is appointed in time, he or she will become the chairperson of the Committee, and either Professor Feltoe or Dr Makoni will cease to be a member.

    Accreditation certificates and Observers Code of Conduct

    Applicants approved by ZEC will be notified and advised when they can, on payment of the prescribed fee [see below], collect their accreditation certificates and copies of the code of conduct applicable to observers. They must not carry out any functions as observers until these documents have been issued to them.

    Accreditation fees

    ZEC will be gazetting new accreditation fees for the different classes of observer shortly.


    Disputes within the Accreditation Committee have been predicted, following statements by Vice-President Joice Mujuru that observers from Western countries will not be allowed and counter-statements from both MDC formations that international observers are essential.

    Media Practitioners

    Local Media Practitioners:

    Only media accredited in terms of either the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act by the Zimbabwe Media Commission [ZMC] or the Broadcasting Services Act will be allowed inside a polling station. Additional accreditation by ZEC will not be required and is not offered.

    Foreign Media Practitioners:

    Foreign media practitioners can apply to the Zimbabwe Media Commission for temporary accreditation for up to 60 days. The Media Commission’s offices are situated in the Media Centre in the grounds of the Rainbow Towers Hotel and Harare International Conference Centre.

    Read Constitution Watch 13/2013 and 16/2013 for more information on accreditation of observers.

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