19th March, 2013
Voters in Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, the country’s election chief said on Tuesday while announcing final results from a referendum held this past weekend.
More than three million people voted on Saturday in favour of the new supreme law, while just 179,000 voted against, said Lovemore Sekeramayi.
The total turnout was below expectation in the country of approximately 12.7 million people.
There is some political apathy and citizens widely assumed the referendum would pass, as all three major political parties in the country backed the document. The new constitution, which introduces presidential term limits, grants parliament more power and expands women’s rights.
But it would not hinder President Robert Mugabe, 89, from running for office again. He has led the country since independence in 1980.
The document took four years to write, at a cost of some 50 million dollars, largely paid by Western donor nations.
The passing of the constitution should clear the way for fresh presidential and general elections to be held this year. The last general election descended into widespread violence which largely targeted the opposition and there is
concern of a repeat.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the country, which went into an economic tailspin in the late 1990s which lasted for a decade, does not have the money to hold elections and is asking for international support.