|Editorial Comment: ZEC should adequately prepare for referendum|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 19:04|
Zimbabweans will on Saturday next week vote in a referendum to either endorse or reject the proposed draft constitution. The Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) has for the past two weeks been holding publicity campaigns throughout the country to explain the provisions of the draft constitution.
Non-governmental organisations are also assisting in the campaigns. The three parties in the inclusive Government are also holding meetings to explain the provisions of the draft constitution as well as campaign for the “Yes” vote.
Government institutions such as the district administrators and provincial administrators’ offices are assisting in distributing copies of the draft constitution. The objective is to ensure that before the voting on 16 March, the people know what they are voting for and as such can make an informed decision.
It is our fervent hope that with just a week before the holding of the referendum, most of the logistics to do with the holding of the referendum are now in place.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should have by now identified the 9 000 polling stations, mobilised all the required voting material, secured adequate transport and other such requirements. What the nation is looking forward to is the successful holding of the referendum which is a precursor to the general elections scheduled for later this year.
The challenge to ZEC therefore is to ensure that everything is in place to enable it to hold a successful referendum. Zimbabwe has since the announcement of the referendum date been on the spotlight.
The country’s detractors are already trying to put spanners in the works to spoil the referendum. The western countries such as Britain, are already pre-judging the polls saying they can only be free and fair if the European Union observers are invited.
The Government has already said it is not inviting the EU and US observers but has invited observers from Sadc, Comesa, the African Union and other friendly countries. The countries that have not been invited to observe the referendum are obviously looking for shortcomings to rubbish the whole electoral process.
The referendum polling is over one day with polling stations opening at 7am and closing at 7pm. ZEC should put in place mechanisms to ensure that all those intending to vote are able to do so between 7am and 7pm.
In the past, opening of polling stations has been delayed by logistical challenges such as late delivery of voting material. This time it must be all systems go come 16 March. The polling officers should be at their respective working stations well in advance so should be the voting materials.
The system should be able to react swiftly to changing circumstances given the fact that people are free to vote at any polling station. What this means is that some polling stations might find themselves with numbers far higher than they were expecting and as we have said, the response to such changed circumstance should be swift.
The referendum has once again afforded the country an opportunity to demonstrate that it has the capacity to handle events of this magnitude. What is comforting is that the country has already shamed the prophets of doom by going ahead with the referendum without outside funding. The Government has announced that it has mobilised adequate resources for the referendum from within and this is as it should be.
The country’s resources should be able to fund such important national events so that the holding of such events is not influenced by outsiders.
We want to once again implore ZEC to ensure the referendum is hitch free.