Zec rigged referendum: Madhuku

HARARE - Constitutional reforms lobby group National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) says it does not recognise the result of a March 16 referendum on a new Constitution claiming the figures were doctored by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

The Saturday vote marked the final stage of a 2008 peace deal between then-rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai which ended post-election violence, and the NCA — a broad alliance of opposition parties, church groups, trade unions and civic organisations — expected Zimbabweans to vote ‘‘no’’ to a constitution they branded “bad”.

Final official referendum results showed over 92,9 percent of 3,3 million voters had cast their ballots in favour of the law, Zimbabwe’s electoral authority said.

But NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku told a news conference that the seven percent, including the spoilt ballots, were for the ‘‘no’’ vote. He said the “conduct of the referendum was neither credible nor satisfactory”.

He cited several reasons, including that of an inadequate notice period, that copies of the draft were unavailable, that State and donor resources were only available for the “yes” campaign, that many vote no” campaigns were proscribed by the police, and they were subjected to hate speech by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who described them as “nhinhi” in Sunningdale and as having “mamhepo” (evil spirits) at a Bulawayo rally.

Madhuku also said Mugabe admitted there was inadequate time when he voted in Highfield, adding the Zec and the judiciary that dismissed his challenge to the referendum on what he termed “suspicious grounds” were not independent.

The constitutional law expert said the NCA does not accept that the “yes” vote means an endorsement by Zimbabweans of a new Constitution.

“In any event, the claim that 3,3 million voted is a fraud by Zec,” Madhuku said.

“To claim that there was close to a million more voters in the referendum than in the March 2008 harmonised elections are to take the public for fools.”

Zec chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said they could not immediately comment on Madhuku’s claims.

“We haven’t seen what they are saying in writing so we cannot comment,” Sekeramayi told the Daily News.

Raymond Majongwe, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general said: “Workers have been cheated.”

Munyaradzi Gwisai, International Socialist Organisation (Iso) Zimbabwe chapter leader said there was unprecedented unity of the ruling class.

“This has not been a free and fair referendum,” he said.

“The MDC leaders are riding on the back of a tiger,” Gwisai warned, referring to the raid on the PM’s office shortly after the referendum. MDC 99 president Job Sikhala said the “no” garnered significant votes.

“You can’t dismiss 170 000 citizens,” Sikhala said. “We had no resources unlike the GNU. I am at home with 170 000 who voted no.”

Pride Mkono, Zimbabwe National Students union president said: “People were not voting for the Constitution really, people were voting for something else other than the Constitution. Part of it is that their political parties instructed them to go and vote 'yes'. The reality is, the people who voted don’t even know the Constitution.”

The NCA said it was not going to make a formal complaint to the election commission but will wait for a new government to continue the fight for a new democratic, people-driven Constitution. - Gift Phiri, Political Editor

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