The Herald (Harare)

16 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Referendum Dates Gazetted

VOTING in the referendum on the draft Constitution will be conducted over one day on March 16, with polling stations opening at 7am and closing at 7pm, President Mugabe has said. The proclamation by President Mugabe was contained in the Government Gazette which validated the referendum date through Statutory Instrument 19 of 2013.

"Now, therefore, under and by virtue of powers vested in the President as aforesaid, I do, by this my proclamation (a) declare that the referendum is to be held in order to ascertain the view of voters on whether or not the draft Constitution which is published in a Gazette Extraordinary together with this proclamation should be adopted as the Constitution of Zimbabwe," President Mugabe said.

"(b) appoint Saturday the 16th of March 2013 as the day on which the referendum will be held and (c) state that on the day on which the referendum is held, voting at polling stations will commence at seven o'clock in the morning and close at seven o'clock in the evening."

The gazetting of the draft Constitution was done in accordance with section 3 of the Referendums Act (Chapter 2:10) which empowers the President to proclaim dates for a referendum and set the voting times.

The proclamation of the referendum date was accompanied by an Extraordinary Government Gazette that published a copy of the 177-page draft Constitution.

The gazetting of the draft means that it is now a public document and is part of efforts by the Government to publicise it before the referendum.

The draft Constitution was produced by the Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders of Parliament in April 2009 as part of the provisions of the Global Political Agreement.

The Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs started publicity campaigns for the draft last week, while Copac would start its own this week.

Copac is printing 90 000 copies of the new charter to be distributed countrywide starting on Monday through provincial and district offices.

At least 20 000 of the copies will be in various local languages while the reminder will be in English.

Parliamentarians will receive 20 copies for distribution in their respective constituencies, while 500 others would be translated into Braille.

The published draft has 18 chapters dealing with founding provisions, national objectives, citizenship, declaration of rights, the executive, the legislature, elections, the judiciary and the courts and principles of public administration and leadership.

Other chapters deal with the civil service, security services, independent commissions supporting democracy, institutions to combat corruption and crime, provincial and local government, traditional leaders, agricultural land, finance and general and supplementary provisions.

Meanwhile, police say they are ready to deal with perpetrators of violence during the referendum and harmonised elections.

Addressing senior assistant commissioners undergoing training on major amendments to the Electoral Act Chapter 2:01 in Harare yesterday, Senior Assistant Commissioner (Operations) Faustino Mazango assured the nation of maximum protection from perpetrators of violence.

This comes at a time when Government has set March 16 as the date for the referendum.

Snr Asst Comm Mazango said the referendum and elections are major national events and law enforcement agents had an obligation to ensure people were afforded an opportunity to exercise their right to vote peaceful ly.

"Always remember that we are peacemakers for the nation and people regard us as their shield in time of need.

"As peacemakers of the nation, may I categorically warn perpetrators of violence that, no one and I repeat, no one is immune to prosecution, hence all perpetrators of violence should be brought to book regardless of their political affiliation and station in life."

The training programme, he said, mirrored police commitment to selflessly and effectively discharge their constitutional mandate professionally.

National Steering Committee Commander Senior Assistant Commissioner Lee Muchemwa recently said a committee which comprises of 26 officers and one civilian was set up in 2010 to deal with the holding of elections, countrywide.

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