Zim referendum counting underway

Monday, March 18, 2013

Harare - Most provincial command centres in Zimbabwe have completed collating results of Saturday's referendum on the draft constitution and overall results are expected soon, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, most polling stations had completed collating results, which were then forwarded to district and provincial command centres for further collation before finally being transmitted to the national command centre, ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau told journalists Sunday.

Speaking at the national command centre, where results had started trickling in, she said: “Our polling officers have done us proud once again as collation in some provincial centres has ended. Referendum results have started coming in."

Asked when final results would be announced, Makarau said it would definitely take less than the stipulated five days.

"At the rate at which we are going, it may be very soon - sooner than the five days we had said,” she added.

Makarau was, however, non-committal on whether ZEC would announce the outcome of the referendum when it had all the results or it would announce them as they came in.

Meanwhile, the electoral observer mission of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also validated the referendum as having been conducted in a free and fair manner. This follows the referendum’s earlier endorsement by the SADC Electoral Commission Forum (ECF).

Head of the SADC electoral observer mission, Bernard Membe, told the media that the referendum was held within the provisions of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed between Zimbabwe's three political parties in the national unity government - Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC.

Membe said the SADC team was impressed with the way ZEC had handled the polls but cited a few grey areas which needed improvement as the country headed towards harmonised elections later this year.

He said there was a need to put in place mechanisms which would ensure that funds to hold the general election was made available in a timely manner and to update the electoral roll ahead of the election. - SAnews.gov.za-NNN