THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) observer team yesterday hailed the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed during the referendum for a new constitution, saying a few incidents of violence had been recorded.
Report by Everson Mushava/ Blessed Mhlanga
However, just over two million out of over six million registered votes cast ballots, reflecting over 50% apathy going by the voters’ roll and even higher considering that 12 million ballot papers were printed to cater for unregistered voters .
Zec chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told journalists in Harare that over two million people had voted in the referendum with the final results expected within five days.
The head of delegation for the Sadc Election Commission Forum, Fako Likoti, and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), an independent election observer group, also endorsed the poll as generally free and fair.
“We would like to commend Zec for an efficient and credible electoral process. All Zimbabweans expressed their view in the process,” Likoti said.
Zimbabwe last Saturday conducted a referendum on the draft constitution that came after four years of political bickering.
Justice Makarau said although the commission was facing several logistical problems in various provinces such as transport, bad weather and communication challenges, she was sure results would be proclaimed within five days as prescribed by the law.
“We are fairly happy with the way things have been going. Over two million Zimbabwean exercised their right to vote,” she said.
“The referendum process progressed with a few incidents. In most provinces, counting has been completed at the polling stations and the returning officers have moved to the ward collation centres where tallying is in progress. Results will be posted outside polling stations in compliance with the provisions of the law.”
Addressing a separare Press conference, Zesn chairman Solomon Zwana said although the observer group was concerned with various issues, the referendum was held in a peaceful environment with minor incidents.
Zesn deployed 600 observers throughout the country’s 10 provinces.
Zesn reported “an incident of a Zanu PF supporter in Matanga, Midlands Province, positioned within a five-metre radius of the polling station taking down names of the people who were voting”.
The MDC-T yesterday expressed concern over the alleged heavy presence of Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives and known Zanu PF officials among polling officers.
“It was worrying to see CIO operatives on the roll of polling officers alongside known Zanu PF activists. This would send a frightening signal to voters in an election to select political leaders. These people have no place in a polling station,” said Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya.