8 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Copac Working On Referendum Question

Do you support this constitution?

This is the question Zimbabwean voters will likely be required to answer during the forthcoming referendum, according to COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora.

The MDC-T spokesman told SW Radio Africa on Friday that voters will then be required to either tick Yes or No, during the referendum expected at the end of March or early April.

'We don't want to complicate things; we want a simple question where everyone will then answer Yes or No. As COPAC we will meet next week under the guidance of the minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs (Eric Matinenga) to finalize the phrasing of the question,' Mwonzora said.

COPAC is also expected to announce the symbols that will be used to identify the Yes and No answers. In search of the appropriate symbols to be used COPAC will engage the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to make proposals of symbols for consideration.

In Kenya, the Independent Electoral Commission that supervised the referendum last year settled for two colours, green for Yes and red for No to the referendum question. It is not clear why just using the words Yes or No isn't sufficient.

The question has also been raised as to what people should do if they don't approve of this new constitution, but also don't like the old one. According to observers it appears their only option when voting will be to 'spoil' their paper.

Mwonzora said the draft is currently being translated into 12 languages and will be done by next week Thursday. He explained that COPAC and ZEC will embark on a civic education campaign to explain the details of the proposed constitution and has urged Zimbabweans to support it, saying it would strengthen democracy in the country.

He reiterated that the proposed constitution provides for an overhaul of the executive, legislature and judiciary, together with a measure of devolution to the regions.

Mwonzora made it clear the country will still be ruled by an executive president, but said that person would be constrained by checks and balances.

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