In Zimbabwe’s February referendum, fifty-four percent voted against the new draft constitution, which had been produced by a government-sponsored commission. Urban voters opposed it by margins of up to three to one, while those in rural areas tended to support the government.
The ‘No’ vote suggests that a wide spectrum of citizens – black and white – are frustrated and believe they can contribute to political decision-making. An opinion poll conducted by the Helen Suzman Foundation in January and February revealed that sixty-three percent of respondents think it is time for a change.
Nonetheless, the opposition victory in the referendum does not guarantee it the same result in parliamentary elections scheduled for late April. Given the constituencies and the winner-take-all electoral system, the pro-government vote in the referendum would still be enough to return the governing ZANU(PF) party with a majority in Parliament.