Commonwealth Election Reports

2310-1512 (online)
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Commonwealth Election Reports, the reports of Commonwealth Observer Groups, Missions or Expert Teams, are independently prepared by the team members as a contribution to the democracy and consensus-building in Commonwealth countries.

Southern Rhodesia Elections February, 1980

Southern Rhodesia Elections February, 1980

The Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group on Elections leading to independent Zimbabwe You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Observer Group
01 Jan 1980
9780850921779 (PDF)

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These Election Reports are the observations, conclusions and recommendations of Commonwealth Observer Groups. The SecretaryGeneral constitutes these observer missions at the request of governments and with the agreement of all significant political parties. At the end of a mission, a report is submitted to the SecretaryGeneral, who makes it available to the government of the country in question, the political parties concerned and to all Commonwealth governments. The report eventually becomes a public document.

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  • Introduction

    An integral feature of the Accord reached by Commonwealth Heads of Government at Lusaka in August 1979, and the ensuing Lancaster House Agreement was the decision to hold free and fair elections in Southern Rhodesia, properly supervised under British Government authority, and with Commonwealth Observers.

  • Method of Work

    In London, en route to Rhodesia, we met the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr. Shridath Ramphal, whose remarks to us are at Annex 4. We also took the opportunity of meeting Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Relations, Lord Carrington, who had chaired the Lancaster House Conference. In welcoming us, he emphasised the paramount importance of our work, and assured us of the co-operation of the British administration in Rhodesia.

  • The Parties

    Nine parties contested the election for the Common Roll seats; a tenth, the Zimbabwe United Peoples Organisation, which had registered, having dropped out.

  • The Campaign

    The central feature of the Lancaster House Agreement was the commitment of all parties to settle their differences by political means, through free and fair elections. The resumption of British authority in Rhodesia was designed to provide them with an opportunity to do so on an equal basis, with the Governor being required to ensure that his authority, duly accepted by all parties, was effectively and impartially exercised.

  • The Media

    Our concern with the freedom of expression in the election campaign led us to take a close interest in the performance of the media.

  • The Organisation and Conduct of the Election

    The Independence Constitution provides for a President, and a Parliament consisting of a Senate and a House of Assembly. The President was to be elected by the two Houses sitting together as an electoral college. The Senate was to be chosen by elections involving members of the House of Assembly and the Council of Chiefs, and augmented by members appointed by the President.

  • Conclusions

    Peace has been restored to Southern Rhodesia by means of a democratic exercise without historical precedent. Never before have elections been held at a time of tenuous cease-fire, without agreed battle lines, and with rival armies uneasily apart. That this proved possible redounds to the credit of all those involved.

  • Acknowledgements

    Never before has the Commonwealth undertaken such a mission or mounted such a major operation in the field. Consultation has been the lifeblood of the Commonwealth, but on this occasion it was translated into action and finally brought to fruition. Although each of us came to this mission as a stranger to his colleagues, a spirit of harmony informed our work throughout.

  • Membership of Commonwealth Observer Group
  • Annexes
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