Zimbabwean constitutional referendum, 2000

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A constitutional referendum was held in Zimbabwe on 12–13 February 2000. The proposed new Constitution of Zimbabwe, which had been drafted by a Constitutional Convention the previous year, was defeated. The defeat was unexpected and was taken as a personal rebuff for President Robert Mugabe and a political triumph for the newly formed opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change. The new proposed constitution was notable for giving power to the government to seize farms owned by white farmers, without compensation, and transfer them to black farm owners as part of a scheme of land reform.

Background[edit]

The constitution of Zimbabwe had been drawn up as part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 and had served the country for nearly 20 years. There was a widespread feeling in Zimbabwe that it was too heavily influenced by the country's colonial past, and that a new constitution written in the light of the experience of independence was desirable. Accordingly, on 21 May 1999, President Mugabe announced the convening of a Constitutional Convention to draft such a constitution fit for the country. The chairman of the commission was a senior judge, Godfrey Chidyausiku. 396 people were named to the convention, including all 150 members of the House of Assembly; some previous opponents of the government were included among the 246 other members, such as Professor Jonathan Moyo.[1]

Over August and September the Convention held more than 5,000 meetings with local people and groups in Zimbabwe, with many seeing concerns voiced over granting of more powers to the executive Presidency. There had already arisen a community group called the National Constitutional Assembly (formed 1997) which convened a "People's Constitutional Convention" in Chitungwiza in June 1999.[2] 4,000 attended this gathering.[3] The perceived success of this group was a critical part in the decision to form the Movement for Democratic Change.

At the Convention's final meeting on 29 November, Justice Chidyausiku announced that the proposed constitution had been adopted "by acclamation" and did not call for a vote. There was some dissent within the room, with dissenters arguing that the proposed constitution did not represent the opinions of Zimbabweans on issues such as Presidential powers.[4] Opponents argued that the Executive Presidency should be replaced with a Prime Minister accountable to Parliament,[5] and a titular and not executive President.

Constitutional proposals[edit]

The proposed constitution incorporated a "Bill of Rights" based on that adopted in South Africa but with some rights restricted (for example, it included no pledge to equal treatment for homosexuals). It proposed to expand the House of Assembly to 200 members, with 50 of them to be elected under a proportional voting system, and to create a new 60 member Senate. It proposed to limit the President to two successive five-year terms, a restriction to begin after the constitution came in force.

The executive President was to remain but be supplemented by a Prime Minister who would be head of government on a day-to-day basis. Opponents of the constitution criticised the legal immunities given to the State and to individuals holding office.

One of the more controversial aspects of the constitution covered land reform. The draft presented by the Commission was not that presented to the electorate for the referendum, but a revised version redrafted by the Cabinet.[5] The proposed Bill of Rights declared that "before Independence the people of Zimbabwe were unjustifiably dispossessed of their land and other resources without compensation", and therefore included a clause allowing the Government to take possession of white-owned land with compensation to be paid by the United Kingdom. Should the United Kingdom not pay, the constitution declared that the "Government of Zimbabwe has no obligation to pay compensation".

Administration[edit]

Referendums in Zimbabwe are counted by House of Assembly constituency. The Delimitation Commission determining the boundaries of constituencies had not yet reported in time for the 2000 elections and so the constituencies used were those drawn up by the 1994 Delimitation Commission. For details of their boundaries, see 1994 Delimitation Commission Report (Cmd. RZ 2 1995).

The voters' roll was reported to be in a poor state. A United Nations advisory team reported in December 1999 that up to a quarter of all the names were now dead, and a third of the names had since moved constituencies.[6] The establishment of polling stations was delayed given the confusion, but the Registrar-General insisted on using the electoral roll rather than using other measures to prevent people from voting twice.[7] A last-minute attempt to delay the referendum was turned down by the High Court.[8]

Result[edit]

  Votes %
Yes 578,210 45.3
No 697,754 54.7
Spoilt ballots 36,774  
Total 1,312,738  

[9]

Constituency results[edit]

Constituency Yes No Spoilt
Votes % Votes %
BULAWAYO PROVINCE
Bulawayo North 3,981 24.8 12,099 75.2 194
Bulawayo South 4,291 19.3 17,961 80.7 347
Lobengula 2,181 23.4 7,150 76.6 99
Luveve 2,022 22.8 6,860 77.2 398
Makokoba 2,433 24.1 7,680 75.9 182
Mpopoma 2,619 22.4 9,056 77.6 115
Nkulumane 4,807 26.1 13,619 73.9 214
Pelandaba 2,721 25.7 7,861 74.3 187
Pumula-Magwegwe 2,682 24.8 8,136 75.2 159
HARARE PROVINCE
Budiriro 3,467 21.2 12,908 78.8 240
Chitungwiza East 3,382 29.8 7,953 70.2 488
Chitungwiza West 3,683 29.1 8,993 70.9 413
Dzivarasekwa 4,574 29.3 11,016 70.7 228
Glen Norah 4,151 22.7 14,175 77.3 186
Glen View 2,894 20.9 10,920 79.1 115
Harare Central 4,821 22.2 16,882 77.8 191
Harare East 4,548 20.4 17,728 79.6 395
Harare North 4,942 24.7 15,038 75.3 394
Harare South 3,703 26.4 10,302 73.6 145
Hatfield 4,739 34.8 8,873 65.2 228
Highfield 3,940 25.6 11,429 74.4 158
Kambuzuma 2,907 22.3 10,121 77.7 154
Kuwadzana 3,977 28.5 9,997 71.5 124
Mbare East 3,787 28.1 9,693 71.9 187
Mbare West 3,022 24.3 9,405 75.7 307
Mufakose 4,680 26.1 13,252 73.9 244
St. Mary's 2,429 26.7 6,678 73.3 155
Tafara-Mabvuku 4,271 25.3 12,616 74.7 385
Zengeza 4,232 31.5 9,192 68.5 135
MANICALAND PROVINCE
Buhera North 4,018 53.5 3,494 46.5 142
Buhera South 4,609 55.3 3,721 44.7 167
Chimanimani 2,366 38.4 3,803 61.6 229
Chipinge North 1,828 26.4 5,104 73.6 190
Chipinge South 1,859 31.1 4,117 68.9 157
Makoni East 2,915 43.6 3,778 56.4 123
Makoni North 3,297 64.1 1,847 35.9 170
Makoni West 3,031 48.1 3,268 52.9 148
Mutare Central 3,126 18.4 13,821 81.6 165
Mutare North 3,121 22.8 10,594 77.2 854
Mutare South 2,452 37.3 4,120 62.7 133
Mutare West 1,771 43.0 2,347 57.0 109
Mutasa 1,867 35.5 3,389 64.5 114
Nyanga 2,733 38.4 4,384 61.6 197
MASHONALAND CENTRAL PROVINCE
Bindura 5,438 47.0 6,141 53.0 287
Guruve North 9,685 79.6 2,475 20.4 182
Guruve South 9,824 78.5 2,690 21.5 247
Mazoe East 8,119 61.2 5,147 38.8 253
Mazoe West 5,390 52.7 4,830 47.3 273
Mount Darwin 10,458 80.5 2,536 19.5 377
Muzarabani 7,758 77.8 2,216 22.2 246
Rushinga 11,593 78.7 3,146 21.3 559
Shamva 10,525 74.0 3,696 26.0 333
MASHONALAND EAST PROVINCE
Chikomba 4,201 57.3 3,127 42.7 807
Goromonzi 3,904 42.3 5,331 57.7 1,803
Marondera East 6,869 46.7 7,827 53.3 247
Marondera West 4,603 60.4 3,016 39.6 143
Mudzi 9,392 77.6 2,705 22.4 293
Murewa North 3,925 64.5 2,161 35.5 107
Murewa South 4,007 56.9 3,037 43.1 149
Mutoko North 5,041 69.2 2,245 30.8 172
Mutoko South 7,035 82.2 1,525 17.8 62
Seke 3,695 35.5 6,718 64.5 208
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe 7,733 75.8 2,470 24.2 192
Wedza 4,552 62.1 2,784 37.9 195
MASHONALAND WEST PROVINCE
Chegutu East 4,167 44.1 5,276 55.9 264
Chegutu West 5,192 52.1 4,775 47.9 197
Chinhoyi 5,831 43.1 7,683 56.9 264
Hurungwe East 5,555 60.4 3,635 39.6 413
Hurungwe West 5,073 69.7 2,207 30.3 980
Kadoma Central 4,410 42.9 5,881 57.1 521
Kadoma East 4,673 73.5 1,688 26.5 123
Kadoma West 5,442 64.8 2,953 35.2 240
Kariba 5,167 54.4 4,335 45.6 161
Makonde 6,243 66.1 3,204 33.9 250
Mhondoro 3,793 56.2 2,962 43.8 175
Zvimba North 7,147 57.3 5,327 42.7 366
Zvimba South 12,558 78.7 3,402 21.3 599
MASVINGO PROVINCE
Bikita 3,939 53.0 3,497 47.0 600
Chiredzi North 5,149 44.7 6,369 55.3 282
Chiredzi South 3,953 59.9 2,649 40.1 150
Chivi North 3,402 66.1 1,748 33.9 156
Chivi South 3,939 61.5 2,465 38.5 157
Gutu-Bikita 3,162 51.8 2,940 48.2 171
Gutu North 5,062 57.2 3,790 42.8 254
Gutu South 3,963 60.1 2,631 39.9 139
Masvingo Central 4,682 37.6 7,773 62.4 209
Masvingo North 3,248 47.5 3,593 52.5 690
Masvingo South 5,947 70.5 2,491 29.5 189
Mwenezi 7,017 72.2 2,704 27.8 496
Zaka East 3,381 53.3 2,963 46.7 179
Zaka West 5,043 55.5 4,045 44.5 1,285
MATABELELAND NORTH PROVINCE
Binga 2,602 32.9 5,296 67.1 591
Bubi-Umguza 6,136 55.3 4,957 44.7 341
Hwange East 3,302 39.6 5,046 60.4 234
Hwange West 2,213 24.6 6,770 75.4 168
Lupane 3,844 61.5 2,408 38.5 154
Nkayi 3,750 53.3 3,291 46.7 260
Tsholotsho 5,066 59.4 3,456 60.6 179
MATABELELAND SOUTH PROVINCE
Beitbridge 7,337 66.1 3,766 33.9 813
Bulilimamangwe North 5,259 64.7 2,865 35.3 229
Bulilimamangwe South 4,520 51.5 4,261 48.5 220
Gwanda 5,861 46.5 6,747 53.5 334
Insiza 3,112 42.7 4,176 57.3 401
Matobo 3,805 48.0 4,130 52.0 286
Umzingwane 3,712 39.0 5,814 61.0 175
MIDLANDS PROVINCE
Chirumanzu 4,921 63.0 2,894 37.0 276
Gokwe Central 9,133 68.0 4,296 32.0 556
Gokwe East 5,074 65.0 2,731 35.0 186
Gokwe North 6,466 66.2 3,298 33.8 437
Gokwe South 6,110 69.7 2,660 30.3 936
Gweru Central 4,250 34.9 7,945 65.1 167
Kwekwe Central 4,778 35.4 8,702 64.6 172
Kwekwe North 7,718 63.0 4,528 37.0 306
Kwekwe West 4,821 40.8 6,994 59.2 1,148
Mberengwa East 8,400 81.5 1,906 18.5 738
Mberengwa West 8,149 75.7 2,616 24.3 313
Mkoba 4,191 32.2 8,842 67.8 153
Shurugwi 6,780 68.0 3,191 32.0 215
Vungu 3,492 47.3 3,890 52.7 190
Zvishavane 7,904 56.5 6,079 43.5 288

References[edit]

  1. ^ Members of the commission (Web.archive.org)
  2. ^ What is the NCA? Archived 3 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine. (National Constitutional Assembly)
  3. ^ "International: Your rights or ours?", The Economist, 26 June 1999, p. 54.
  4. ^ "Zimbabwe in uproar over constitution draft without a vote", Daily Mail, 1 December 1999, p. 38.
  5. ^ a b "Zimbabweans put no trust in referendum", Financial Times, 11 February 2000, p. 13.
  6. ^ Tony Hawkins, "Big-spender Mugabe drives Zimbabwe into debt trap", Financial Times, 20 January 2000, p. 10.
  7. ^ Michael Dynes, "Zimbabwe heads for poll of confusion", The Times", 9 February 2000, p. 18.
  8. ^ "Zimbabwe's constitution vote", The Independent, 11 February 2000, p. 16.
  9. ^ Official declaration of results by Registrar-General of Elections, T.T. Mudede, 15 February 2000.

External links[edit]