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U.S. Embassy Endorses Referendum as Credible, Peaceful

  • Sithandekile Mhlanga
  • Gibbs Dube

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Bruce Wharton

The U.S. said the “peaceful referendum” which was observed by its five teams, including Ambassador Bruce Wharton, is a key development towards democracy and rule of law in the country

The United States Embassy in Zimbabwe has endorsed the constitutional referendum held on March 16 as peaceful and credible, joining other observers which include the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and Sourthern African Development Comunity (SADC) in commending the process.

In a statement, the U.S. said the “peaceful referendum”, which was observed by its five teams, including Ambassador Bruce Wharton, is a key development towards democracy and rule of law in the country.

However, the embassy, said it notes with concern reports that voters in some area were instructed to vote at specific stations, or instructed to report to political party operatives after voting.

“We also note with regret that accreditation of observers was limited, but believe that the overall conduct of this referendum has helped to gain the confidence of the Zimbabwean people, neighboring countries, and the international community”.

Sharon Hudson-Dean, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. told VOA Studio 7 the referendum reflected respect for the rule of law and apolitical policing in the country, which is important for establishing conducive conditions for credible and non-violent elections later this year.

Thabani Nyoni, political commentator and director of civic group Bulawayo Agenda, who observed the referendum, said incidents of violence were few during the process because political parties had previously agreed on how to vote.

Meanwhile, as vote counting continues in Zimbabwe following a constitutional referendum Saturday, some polling officers are worried that they will not be paid agreed allowances for conducting the national event.

The polling officers said they have already been paid between 40 and 100 dollars each but are concerned that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission won’t pay outstanding allowances of up to $240.

One of the polling officers, who wanted to be identified as Sanele, said ZEC has promised to pay the outstanding allowances after announcing the results of the constitutional referendum.

Raymond Majongwe, general secretary of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, said some teachers do not even know how much they will be paid by ZEC.

ZEC officials were not immediately reachable for comment. It still owes some teachers thousands of dollars for conducting a national population census last August.