Zimbabwe: Overwhelming Voter Support for Draft Constitution

Zimbabwe Referendum
Voters in Zimbabwe have endorsed the new constitution

AFRICANGLOBE – AS the country awaits the announcement of official referendum results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, information filtering through from reporters and observers deployed at various stations countrywide indicates overwhelming endorsement of the draft constitution.

Contrary to claims of wide-spread voter apathy from civil society organisations and some sections of the media, information reaching us shows that over three million votes were cast countrywide almost thrice the 1,282,302 votes cast in a similar constitutional referendum in the year 2000.

Our figures indicate the following approximate totals per province: Manicaland 418,000; Mashonaland Central 342,000, Mashonaland East 397,000; Mashonaland West 342,000; Masvingo 304,000, Midlands 394,000, Harare 515,000; Bulawayo 131,000, Matabeleland North 178,000, and Matabeleland South 143,000.

If officially confirmed, the voting total far outstrips the 2,696,670 votes cast in the general election of 2005; the 2,421,973 votes that were cast in the March 29, 2008 harmonised elections and the 2,514,750 votes cast in the presidential election runoff of June 27 that year.

Our unofficial collation indicates that the “Yes Vote” may be as high as 90 percent, with the remaining 10 percent accounting for the “No Vote” and spoiled ballots.
This means close to three million voters endorsed the draft constitution, which would translate to over 55 percent of the 5.6 million registered voters.

With voting trends showing most Zanu-PF strongholds in rural areas recorded high turnouts to drive the “Yes Vote” with MDC-T-dominated urban areas recording low endorsement in some areas; analysts say if the referendum results mirror the impending harmonised elections then Zanu-PF is poised for a landslide victory.

The view by analysts dovetails with several recent surveys that have given the revolutionary party the edge over its coalition government partner, the MDC-T.
In September last year, the UK-based pro-MDC-T group, Zimbabwe Vigil, said the Morgan Tsvangirai lead MDC-T was likely to lose the forthcoming harmonised elections because of rampant corruption within its top leadership among other issues.

Zimbabwe Virgil’s damning assessment of MDC-T’s electoral chances came hard on the heels of two unflattering surveys by the US-based group, Freedom House, and Afrobarometer that said President Mugabe and Zanu-PF would win polls ahead of Tsvangirai and the MDC-T. The Freedom House survey, that was released in August, said support for the MDC-T had fallen from 38 percent in 2010 to 20 percent this year while support for Zanu-PF grew to 31 percent from 17 percent, over the same period.

The survey also said that President Mugabe would command the support of 31 percent of voters in a presidential election, compared to 19 percent for Mr Tsvangirai.
The survey said Zanu-PF had clear programmes such as the land reform and other empowerment programmes to sell to the electorate while the “Change” mantra pushed by MDC-T had lost steam.

The Afrobarometer survey, entitled “Voting Intentions in Zimbabwe: A Margin of Terror?”, also put Zanu-PF ahead of MDC-T, but said another coalition government was likely. Another survey carried out later in the year, in November, by the Mass Public Opinion Institute and released in February this year said Zanu PF would win the parliamentary elections with 33 percent of the vote to 32 percent for the MDC-T.

Analysts, however, questioned how the 11 percentage point gap MPOI had given Zanu-PF in an earlier survey last year had been whittled down to a sole point in a matter of months. They intimated that donors, who fund the surveys, were probably on a damage control drive of painting the picture of a resurgent MDC-T catching up with Zanu-PF ahead of the elections to create self-fulfilling prophecies in the event of an MDC-T loss.

Over the past few months, the MDC-T has been on a campaign of trashing the socio-political environment alleging resurgence in cases of political violence. The party’s leadership recently despatched their secretary for international relations, Mr Jameson Timba, to distribute a dossier in the SADC region. A move that analysts said was designed to create self-fulfilling prophecies ahead of pending defeat in the harmonised elections.