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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Daily Media Referendum Watch - Issue 07
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    March 17, 2013

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    ZBC downplays alleged voter apathy

    The national television station, ZTV, gave more prominence to reports suggesting that yesterday’s referendum had been conducted successfully across the country, while downplaying reports of voter apathy in some parts of the country.

    ZTV mostly relied on statements by the coalition principals, SADC observers, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and some voters expressing satisfaction with the voting process, turnout, and prospects of a new constitution for the country.

    In one case, ZBC reporter Judith Makwanya was reported giving an update on voting proceedings in Harare. She said: “There was history when the polling stations opened. Generally, voter turn-out was impressive”.

    In another, ZTV reported ZEC retaining officer Bright Nyabako informing the public on what was transpiring in Chitungwiza: “People are still trickling in and things are going on peacefully”.

    ZTV also reported SADC Executive Secretary and a member of the SADC Observer team, Tomaz Salamao, saying: “I am very happy with what I saw myself and my team. Zimbabweans are coming in their numbers to vote”.

    A cross section of voters ZTV interviewed in Harare suburbs such as Kambuzuma, Rugare, Glen View, Kuwadzana, Glen Norah, Mabvuku, Tafara, Epworth, Hatfield and Budiriro, and satellite towns of Norton and Domboshava, also “expressed satisfaction at the voting process”.

    So did MDC-T’s national organizing secretary, Nelson Chamisa, whom ZTV quoted expressing the same views: “The people have heeded the call of the various leaders and we are happy with the turn out.”

    The private radio stations gave more emphasis to alleged voter apathy; irregularities in the voting process; and reports of ZANU PF supporters attacking MDC members in some parts of the country.

    They sought comment from those Zimbabweans who boycotted the poll. These were reported arguing that it did not make sense to them to vote for a constitution whose contents they knew nothing about (ZiFM & SW Radio Africa, 16/3).

    Studio 7 (16/3) also reported suspected ZANU PF supporters as having “asked voters to submit their names after casting their votes” in some areas like Rushinga and Chakari (a development also raised by private papers and the independent election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network. See Print section of the media update below).

    MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti also cited these incidents when he told a Press conference in Harare that his party was worried about the “abduction and intimidation” of MDC-T supporters on the day Zimbabweans were expected to decide the fate of the draft constitution.

    Allegations of the abduction emanated form an incident in which an MDC-T activist, Samson Magumira, was allegedly kidnapped from his Headlands home by “three unknown men and a woman driving a white truck” (SW Radio Africa).

    The circumstances and the motive of the abduction remained unclear. Neither did the private radios establish whether the incident was linked to the holding of the referendum.

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