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Daily Media Referendum Watch - Issue 08
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
March 18, 2013
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observers endorse referendum
Reports of regional
election observers, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), and
some government officials expressing satisfaction with how
the referendum was held were the highlight of the private electronic
media’s coverage of the administration of the vote.
who were reported endorsing the referendum were the SADC Election
Observer Mission, the Electoral Commission Forum for SADC countries
and Masvingo provincial governor Titus Maluleke (Star FM, 17/3,
praised government and the people of Zimbabwe for maintaining and
observing “peace” and ZEC for “successfully organizing
the referendum in a relatively short time and demonstrating a high
degree of transparency throughout the process” (Star FM).
But these observers
were also reported recommending to ZEC that they address concerns
raised by stakeholders noted during polling. These included “dispatching
polling materials to stations on time and conducting more voter
education” in future polls (Star FM).
In other reports,
ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau was reported giving updates
on the counting process at a Press conference in Harare (Star FM).
She was reported promising to release results within five days,
as provided for under the country’s electoral laws.
While Star FM
paid more attention to updates from ZEC and election observers on
the voting process, SW Radio Africa and Studio 7 (17/3) focused
on the post-referendum political crackdown by the authorities, which
they argued did not augur well for government’s efforts to
democratise the country and clean up Zimbabwe’s international
included the raid of the PM’s offices and the arrest
of five senior officials for unspecified offences, and human rights
lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa for allegedly obstructing the course of justice.
The MDC-T officials who were arrested are Principal Director in
the PM’s Office Thabani Mpofu, Anna Muzvidziwa, Felix Matsinde,
and Warship Dumba.
The reason for
the raid was unclear in the private electronic media. SW Radio Africa
speculated that the police, “who did not have a search warrant”,
were “said to have been looking for shortwave radios”.
Mtetwa was reportedly
arrested when she tried to make enquiries about Mpofu’s arrest
(SW Radio Africa).
SW Radio Africa
reported an official with the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, Jeremiah Bhamu, “castigating”
the police for the arrests at a time when Zimbabwe is waiting for
the referendum results: “My point is the timing itself was
not the correct time to do so. Right now the focus was on the referendum
on how free and fair it could be, they could have waited until the
referendum results were out”.
spokesperson Charity Charamba was reported denying that Mtetwa’s
arrest was politically motivated during a media briefing in Harare
(SW Radio Africa).
quoted as saying Mtetwa “went beyond her legal mandate and
shouted at police officers investigating at a crime scene”.
“Where actually an offence has been committed it is not the
police that commit the offence. Police in this case have responded
because the law has been contravened, so there is no way it can
be politically motivated persecution whatever you call it. Police
are actually responding to credible information about offences that
have been committed, so if people commit offences and then they
start talking about persecution then it’s something else”.
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