LEGAL experts and politicians yesterday said the low voter turnout during last weekend’s referendum could signal lack of confidence in the Copac draft constitution and Global Political Agreement leadership.
Report by Veneranda Langa
Slightly more than two million people turned out to vote during the referendum out of a possible six million eligible voters.
Lawyer and Zimbabwe Media Commissioner Chris Mhike said although the draft constitution will remain adopted after the “Yes” vote win, its legitimacy still remained questionable as it was endorsed by a small fraction of potential voters.
“Referendums are designed to reflect the thinking of a population’s preference or inclination about a particular matter, and if very few people express a view — that cannot be legitimately taken to be a majority view in the context of the entire population,” Mhike said.
“The low turnout certainly affects the credibility of the vote in that the views expressed were not expressed by a significant majority, but however, the draft constitution will remain adopted because legitimacy of an election is determined by those who have exercised their rights to vote.
“Lack of equality of voices during the campaign period to the referendum was reflective of what will happen in the main election because there is nothing to suggest that in the forthcoming elections dissenting voices are going to be given space to campaign on electronic and print media. This is also a very straightforward poll, but Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has failed to announce results within 24 hours. Of course it is legal that they announce within the five-day period, but that is a worrisome feature because we wonder how long they will take to announce results of the main election.”
National Constitutional Assembly spokesperson Madock Chivasa said although the “Yes” vote was poised for victory, this would not make the Copac draft constitution a good document.
“Very soon people would be crying because they are going to be ruled by a worse document than the Lancaster House Constitution. The low turnout is a clear lack of confidence in the Copac draft and the inclusive government. It is an illegitimate process, but the government leaders are too arrogant to admit that reality,” Chivasa said.
MDC 99 leader Job Sikhala said:“The huge boycott means the people of Zimbabwe have demonstrated there is a large constituency outside there that has passed a vote of no confidence in the GPA. The outcome is totally illegitimate.”