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  • New Constitution-making process - Index of articles

  • Daily Media Referendum Watch - Issue 08
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    March 18, 2013

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    SADC 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.

    Among those 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,

    These reportedly 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 image.

    These incidents 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”.

    However, police spokesperson Charity Charamba was reported denying that Mtetwa’s arrest was politically motivated during a media briefing in Harare (SW Radio Africa).

    Charamba was quoted as saying Mtetwa “went beyond her legal mandate and shouted at police officers investigating at a crime scene”.

    Charamba said: “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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