THE ELECTION IN ZIMBABWE-RHODESIA IN
In 1979 a five-man team, led by Lord Boyd, was sent to Rhodesia by the Conservative
Party to observe the first one-man-one-vote elections in Rhodesia. The following is the
full text (in 2 parts) of their report, with the exception of some appendices consisting of
photocopies of leaflets and brochures used during the election. The report is in the form
of a typed and stencilled MS, signed by the five members of the team. The copy I was
able to obtain was originally in the collection of Patrick Wall, MP, together with another
report on the election by John Drinkwater (Queen's Council). Due to the length of the
report, it has been divided into two sections.
Part 1 (of 2)
REPORT TO THE PRIME MINISTER ON THE ELECTION HELD IN
ZIMBABWE-RHODESIA IN APRIL 1979
Viscount Boyd of Merton
Viscount Colville of Culross
Sir Charles Johnston
Mr. Miles Hudson
Parties taking part in the election
UANC.........................................United African Council
Leader: Bishop the
Hon. A.T. Muzorewa
ZANU.........................................Zimbabwe African National
Leader: Rev. The Hon.
ZUPO.........................................Zimbabwe United Peoples’
Leader: Senator Chief
the Hon. J.S. Chirau
UNFP.........................................United Peoples’ National
Leader: Senator Chief
NDU..........................................National Democratic Union
Leader: Mr. H.
(This Party only contested one province).
Parties based externally
The Patriotic Front embraces two parties:-
ZAPU........................................ Zimbabwe African Peoples’
Leader: Mr. Joshua
ZANU........................................ Zimbabwe African National
Leader: Mr. Robert
(this party is not to be confused with Mr. Sithole’s ZANU).
The military wing of ZAPU is ZIPRA - The Zimbabwe Peoples’
The military wing of Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU is ZANLA - Zimbabwe African
National Liberation Army.
Our Task and Itinerary . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Paragraphs 1 - 7
The Nature of the Vote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 - 13
The Electoral System & Lack of Electoral Roll . . . . . . . 14 - 37
General Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 - 46
The National Electoral Directorate Campaign . . . . . . . . 47 - 52
The Political Parties' Campaign . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 - 56
Transport of Voters by Employers & the
Security Forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 - 64
Protected Villages. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 - 67
Security Force Auxiliaries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 - 71
Censorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 - 75
Martial Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 - 85
Intimidation by Guerrillas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 - 97
Absence of Mr. Nkomo's and Mr. Mugabe's
Parties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . 98 - 106
The Poll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 - 119
The Count . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 - 125
The Result . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126 - 131
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
OUR TASK AND ITINERARY
1. You sent us to observe the elections in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia and to report to you the
circumstances in which they were held. Polling for the 72 common roll seats took place
from 17-21 April. The count took place on 23 and 24 April. The election for the 20 white
seats had already taken place, only 4 being actually contested.
2. We all arrived in Salisbury on 13 April (preceding all other observers). Lords Colville
and Elton had to return to the UK on 22 April, the remaining three staying until 29 April.
3. On our arrival in Salisbury, we were offered a series of detailed briefings by the
administration. These we accepted. We received explanations of the arrangements for
polling and the preparations which had led up to it. The security situation was very
frankly disclosed. Our many questions were readily and fully answered, and extra
material supplied whenever requested.
4. We were already aware of the criticisms of the election which were current throughout
the world. As well, therefore, as testing these with the authorities wherever and whenever
the opportunity occurred, we pursued our own informal inquiries among those holding as
wide a range of opinion as we could muster. In the course of our enquiries within
Rhodesia we travelled over 2000 miles, visited 66 polling stations and two prisons, and
observed the counting of votes in 17 centres. (See Appendix A). We talked to the leaders
of all the political parties except Mr. Chihota, whose party only contested one electoral
district, and whom despite all our efforts we failed to contact. We also had a talk with Mr.
Ian Smith. We were given comprehensive briefings by the security forces and the District
Officers in four electoral districts. We had meetings with many individuals and
organisations under arrangements not made by the authorities. A number of the
individuals were people chosen for their known dissent from the administration. We
examined exhaustively the entire membership of the National Election Directorate as
well as the statistician to whom they had entrusted the calculation of the size of the
electorate. In the field we talked with countless individuals including members of all the
services, all branches of the civil service, prisoners, detainees, clergy and private people
both in the towns and in the countryside. We also used our eyes and our cameras.
5. The lack of easy communication between the UK and Rhodesia had led the authorities
to make their own arrangements for the international observers and press to travel as
widely as possible during the elections; we were invited to join this itinerary. This we felt
to be unsatisfactory; not only would there be doubt whether our steps might have been
guided so that we would only see what we were meant to see, but we also feared that the
size of the proposed groups would tend to create an artificial atmosphere and obscure
accurate observation. Since we made this known at once, the authorities, with very good
grace, offered an alternative for our group alone. In the larger towns we would split into
pairs and travel by car, and for the four days when we were not in Salisbury we would be
taken by air to a centre where, after local briefing, we could choose our own tour of the
country areas. We were given the use of a Dakota for longer trips, and more importantly a
Cheetah helicopter of the Rhodesian Air Force which could carry our party wheresoever
was desired. Only by this method could we have visited the Tribal Trust Lands. At times
we were able to travel by air in three separate parties. For the count we were provided
with light aircraft.
6. The area of Rhodesia is 151,000 square miles. We were thus constrained by the time
involved even in air travel; and we could not but cooperate with the extreme care which
was being taken by the Security Forces for our personal safety. These two factors did
limit the places we could visit. Although we never arrived at any rural polling station
without someone knowing it at least briefly in advance, this was not the case in urban
areas. We are certain that people or events were not manipulated for our benefit. We were
alert to this possibility and selected the people with whom we talked in a way which we
believe produced for us a true sample. For instance, one of our number who visited a
prison was able to select detainees for interview at random and use one of them as an
interpreter in speaking to those whose English was poor. He was thus able to require all
officials to withdraw out of earshot. He is confident that the available assembly had not
been deliberately selected and that those who spoke to him did so freely.
7. We also interviewed officials at the polling stations; the local party representatives
whenever present, members of the Security Forces on duty in each place, and above all
the bystanders and the voters. It is true that by these means we are unlikely to have had
contact with many who did not wish to vote, and if there had been a very low turnout we
would have had to concede this to be a serious flaw in our investigations. It is in any case
a defect, but one which we found no means of overcoming consistent with observing the
poll itself where it was taking place. Any language difficulties were easily overcome by
interpreters we found we could trust; many people speak English anyway. We can
emphatically say that colour was no bar to free and friendly conversations. Indeed we
were struck by the evident frankness and goodwill which had been established between
THE NATURE OF THE VOTE
8. It soon became clear that this election was different from the normal one in which the
voter is asked simply to express a preference between candidates or parties within the
framework of a generally agreed constitution. The first decision an elector was asked to
make was whether he would vote at all. There were many pressures exerted on him by
both sides on this matter which we deal with later, and his response had a profound
meaning of which, in general, he was aware. The question which he thus answered one
way or the other was whether or not his country should proceed on the broad principles of
the constitution under which the election was operating.
9. This point was brought home to him in a number of ways. The election manifestos of
the UANC, ZANU and ZUPO all made clear that they would, if elected, uphold the 1979
constitution (see note below). All the propaganda supplied by the authorities, which we
deal with later, implied that a vote would give support to the concept of a majority rule
government on the basis of the arrangements agreed. The political parties based outside
Rhodesia - the Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (Mr. Nkomo) and the Zimbabwe
African National Union (Mr. Mugabe, and not to be confused with the Reverend N.
Sithole’s ZANU inside the country) made it clear from the start that they were opposed to
the election primarily because they had not been involved in framing the constitution and
that they would try by every means possible to disrupt the elections for this reason. The
often used phrase - “we voted for peace” - implies a view, right or wrong, that if the new
constitution was accepted, this would lead to an end to the war. Those who made this
remark were, therefore, in effect, voting for the new arrangement by the very fact of
going to the poll. A typical remark made by an ordinary black farmer at Protected Village
6 at Madziwa was - “This election is for one Zimbabwe for you and for me”.
10. We have had to bear in mind that no coherent and legal campaign took place to
persuade people to express dissatisfaction with the constitution by refraining from voting.
We believe that the administration might actively have discouraged such a campaign.
There was, we heard, a demonstration at the University at Salisbury with such an intent,
but the demonstrators were prevented by the police from leaving the campus.
11. Yet, the great jubilation among blacks and whites when the high poll was announced
before the count had even started must lead to the conclusion that the election was not
merely about which party would win but contained within it a further and perhaps more
12. Whether or not the constitution would lead to the benefits claimed for it was beside
the point for our purposes. We were not called upon to make political judgements of that
nature. It was the intentions of the voter when he voted that we wished to probe and we
are satisfied that the election did in fact constitute a kind of referendum on the
13. The second question the voter was asked was, of course, which of the parties shown
on the ballot paper he supported. We will examine the validity of the answer to this
question at a later stage.
The manifestos put out before the election included the following remarks:-
UANC - “The UANC Government will uphold and protect the constitution of
ZANU - “ZANU shall uphold the constitution of Zimbabwe and shall protect it against
any arbitrary or unconstitutional government of the day.”
ZUPO - “ZUPO will uphold the spirit and integrity of the 1979 constitution without
adding to, or detracting from, it.”
The UNFP manifesto does not assist on this point since this party advocated a federal
THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM USED AND THE LACK OF AN ELECTORAL
14. The Electoral Act 1979 provided an elaborate system for the determination of 72
Common Roll constituencies. However Chapter XI of the act fundamentally modified
this requirement, and provided that the Common Roll seats should be dealt with thus:-
a. The country is divided into 8 Electoral Districts, with numbers of seats varying
according to the estimated number of voters (see Appendix B);
b. Any party may nominate a list of candidates for one or more of these Districts;
c. The ballot papers simply show the name and symbol of each party standing in the
District with a space for the voter’s cross;
d. Everyone may vote provided that he or she is over 18 and has been resident in the
country for at least two years, or who is a returning resident: citizenship is not a criterion.
15. There were 441 static and 244 mobile polling stations, which provided about 2,000
16. The electoral system used, was that of the party list by Electoral District whereby
seats are allocated in proportion to the valid votes cast by each party in each District with
the proviso only that any party receiving less than 10% of the vote in a District receives
17. A national registration of the population is in process but is complete in certain
districts only. We were told that the original intention of the Transitional Government
had been to conduct the first elections on the basis of a constituency-based electoral role,
but political and Parliamentary delays had left insufficient time for this to be achieved,
even by April 1979. Furthermore, it was thought that an electoral roll would allow the
guerrillas to victimise those who had registered (see paragraph 21).
18. We do not consider that the lack of an electoral roll automatically invalidates the
election. This is no novelty in Africa. The first elections in Mozambique and Gabon were
carried out without registration of voters; in Swaziland there was registration but no
requirement of citizenship. In Angola there is no registration, but neither has there been
an election. The advantages and disadvantages must be weighed.
19. For a number of reasons, not least the unacceptability to most countries of a
Rhodesian passport, many of the ordinary residents of the country of all races are not
registered citizens; it was not thought that they should be disenfranchised on that account.
20. All sectors of the population are suffering from a continuing war which brings with it
much intimidation and harassment of the rural black population and has driven white
farmers, in some cases, into the towns. Very substantial shifts of the black population
have taken place, and this continues. Some have even left for Mozambique or Botswana,
since a part of each border arbitrarily divides certain tribes; however, such are the
privations in Mozambique that black Rhodesians have been returning steadily into
Manicaland. It follows that a constituency-based electoral roll could well have
disqualified from voting those whom the war had displaced within the country since their
registration. Returning residents who had missed the registration would also have been
disenfranchised. Moreover, one District Commissioner told us that those who were not
allowed to vote for those reasons would not understand it. We note that frustration was
thus engendered in voters’ minds during the election in Equatorial Guinea, according to
the UN Mission which observed the constitutional process in that country in 1968; There
the problems arose not from a war but from purely administrative causes.
21. Of much greater significance is the weapon for intimidation which registration would
have delivered to the guerrillas. Since many people in an area have identical names and
for other normal reasons a card would have had to be issued. This would have given the
guerrillas, set on disrupting the elections, four strong opportunities for pressure. They
would have intimidated people from registering in the first place; if that failed they could
exert pressure to have the cards destroyed; if that failed they could intimidate the voters
from going to the polling station; or more simply they could have driven off the voters
from the area over a period, knowing that these people could vote nowhere else.
22. These mainly arise from the political deductions which will be drawn from the
percentage of voters who turned out either by Electoral District or nationally. We do not
attach much importance to the more obvious criticism, that voters may have entered
Rhodesia for the occasion from neighbouring states. The Zambian border consists of the
Zambezi River (with only three crossing points since the Kazungula ferry was disabled);
about a third of the Botswana border is an uninhabited Park, whilst for the rest and for the
South African border we were told that the people were leaving Rhodesia to join their
tribal kin rather than entering the country, and in North Matabeleland there is no cross
border tribal connection. This leaves the Mozambique border which is largely unmarked
and is only mined around Umtali. While we were merely able to check the central part of
this border, neither officials, the local party members nor the public said that they had
heard of Mozambiquans entering Rhodesia, though Rhodesians who had fled or been
abducted had been returning with the blessing of President Machel whose food supplies
are low. Moreover in other parts of that border are several areas where the Security
Forces have excluded all civilians, and another large Park.
23. The real difficulty derives from the exercise carried out by Dr. Myburgh in estimating
the 1979 voting potential from a base of the last national census in 1969. We are no
experts in demography, whereas he is accepted as such. Appendix C is the official
statement which he has published, and we asked him questions in elucidation. Whilst his
estimated voting population of 2.8m blacks and 100,000 whites may have no specific
rival figure except that produced by the World Bank (3.5m), we were bound to conclude
that Dr. Myburgh had had to make certain assumptions, particularly in relation to women
and repatriation of foreign men who became unemployed in Rhodesia. As to women,
there appears to be no empirical material as to migration and Dr. Myburgh had not sought
information or opinions from other African countries. Accordingly, we conclude that it
would not be safe to form any exact judgement based solely on a percentage turn-out of
voters using a precise national figure of 2.9m potential voters.
24. The subdivision of the electorate among the eight Electoral Divisions also causes
problems. A timely Press statement was issued on Day 4 of the election by the National
Electoral Directorate, which is in Appendix D to this report. It explains that the
subdivision was calculated without regard to the movement of population in recent years
as a result of the guerrilla war. This, in our view, is true. Quite independently of Dr.
Myburgh’s calculations, District Commissioners outside the larger urban areas had also
been keeping a tally on the population within their areas; as a result of our questions
substantial differences appeared between Dr. Myburgh’s “normal times” estimates and
the population actually estimated to be in many of the districts in April 1979. This also
accounts for the Electoral District where the votes cast exceeded the estimated electorate.
25. Two further points should be made about these differences:-
26. Certain parts of the country, notably those where the guerilla influence of ZANLA or
ZIPRA (or both) is at its greatest, are liable to be over-represented in the new House of
Assembly, at least until the war ends and the population return to their normal homes.
27. Both the turn-out and the percentage of spoilt papers may be presented as possessing
a significance in the assessment whether or not the elections were free and fair. These
two matters need separate discussion:-
a. The low turn-out in Matabeleland may indicate the success of guerilla intimidation by
both guerilla armies, and/or deliberate abstentions, because of the absence from the ballot
paper of a party led by Mr. Nkomo. Such conclusions may be misleading if the available
electorate was smaller than estimated.
b. The figures of spoilt papers, by contrast, are expressed as a percentage only of the
voters who actually presented themselves to vote and need not similarly be vitiated.
28. The lack of an electoral roll is not unprecedented in Africa.
29. On balance its absence enabled more people to vote, because of population shifts
away from their normal homes.
30. The black electorate of 2.8m is an estimate based upon a ten-year-old census and
certain assumptions. Some of the assumptions are uncheckable, we think there could be a
considerable margin of error.
31. The break down of that total among the Electoral Districts (which forms the basis of
numbers of Common Roll seats for each District) bears little comparison with the
numbers actually on the ground during the election. There had been a substantial shift of
population from the Tribal Trust Lands into towns and cities.
32. Whilst some of this shift may have nevertheless resulted in people remaining within
their Electoral District, others certainly migrated across these boundaries.
33. Some tens of thousands of Rhodesians were, voluntarily or not, abroad in Botswana,
South Africa and Mozambique; only from the latter country, we were told, had they been
returning in any number in time for the election. On the other hand there was no evidence
of an influx of foreigners seeking to vote.
34. There were also active guerillas, most of whom are Rhodesian, in Zambia, to a lesser
extent in Mozambique and at large in Rhodesia.
35. In these circumstances it would be unwise to draw political conclusions from the
percentage national turn-out based on the authorities’ figures, let alone from turn-out in
individual Electoral Districts.
36. However, even if the figure of 2.9m was indeed an under-estimate - and we do not
necessarily accept that it was since there is no conclusive evidence either way - the turnout
was impressive against any reasonable estimate of the total electorate so far
produced: even if the figure of 3.5m was right, more than 50% of the electorate voted.
37. We therefore conclude that the lack of electoral roll did not invalidate the election.
38. It was at once clear to us that the legislation passed by the Transitional Government
and the way in which it was being implemented under the guidance of the National
Electoral Directorate would produce election machinery of a sophisticated nature. The
poll and the count, and the behaviour of the officials concerned were intended to be of the
calibre of what we expect in the United Kingdom. We have therefore not hesitated to
judge those matters according to the strictest standards. An additional feature not normal
in this country was the need to keep safe that most precious commodity, the ballot papers,
until they could be counted; since a ballot box blown up or burnt could have had a
disproportionate effect on the result for a whole Electoral District. We found the
authorities equally aware of this, and their precautions were successful.
39. It is much more difficult to form any judgement about the effect of the various
pressures which have been exerted on the black population. All electioneering involves
persuasion, and all electorates might be said to need political education, but it is no help
to assess what we have seen and heard in Rhodesia by reference to the effect it would
have had on the British voters.
40. In the Tribal Trust Lands the black population in normal times live in kraals (or
villages) of various sizes; in each the people are largely interrelated, and authority
consists of the kraal headman, and through him ultimately the chief. There is no question
of women taking part in any decision-making process. When in their villages, the young
men would normally work in the fields or with the cattle since they lead (or led) a basic
subsistence agricultural life. Prosperous African farmers growing cash crops are the
exception. Many of the men work in the towns or at European farms or mines, and, if
they do not have their families with them, return for holidays and sometimes weekends to
41. The customs and beliefs of the African people are at least as complex as those added
to them by western Christian culture. Many people believe in the existence of spirits
which have a profound influence on every aspect of life or death. Indeed a leading figure
in the UANC (Mr. Chikerema) referred, at a press conference after the election on 27
April, to the help that the spirits had given him. Furthermore, apparently innocent phrases
are widely recognised as carrying the implicit and inescapable threat of death. It must
always be remembered that this can be used to induce terror by those who seek to
influence the conduct of others by the use of threats.
42. The guerillas (to use the most neutral phrase we can find) know these characterisitics
well, of course, and their training is directed to making use of them. If the tribal authority
of the kraal headman is removed, or subverted, the kraal is at a loss; in particular there is
nothing to stop the young men from doing exactly as they please. In addition to breaking
down the tribal structure, the guerillas have also driven back the manifestations of
Government administration, and consequently the Government’s authority. It is not
therefore surprising that , in some cases, we were led to expect nothing much to be left
but fear and superstition, and blind obedience. This would be the more pronounced since
in the course of the guerilla war the Security Forces have done some unpleasant things to
the rural population which undoubtedly have been interpreted as retaliation. Where the
villagers had been made to collaborate with the guerillas, such as by growing or
providing food for them, crops and cattle have been destroyed. Of course, both sides want
information about the other and threats may be used to ensure silence, or to elicit
43. What we have said might lead to the conclusion that the people we saw were cowed,
surly and unable to take any initiative. Even those in the towns should not be exempt
since most have families in the Tribal Trust Lands through whom intimidation can be
brought to bear. No doubt such thoughts lay behind the forecasts or fears of a miserably
44. On the contrary the people we saw at country polling stations gave no appearance of
being under threat. Many had dressed up for the occasion; none refused to talk to us
though some of the women were shy. At one village in the North East we spoke to a
group of farmers sitting under a tree: they were the heads of family of a kraal who had
been moved en masse ny the guerillas a substantial distance to the Mozambique border
and had been ordered to grow crops for the guerillas; their own crops and clothes other
than what they carried with them were burnt, and so were their huts. They had just been
found and brought back by the Security Forces after six weeks’ absence and were
awaiting debriefing. They had all just voted and we asked them why: they said they were
sick of the war, of having no clothes and no food, and wanted a return to normality. Two
days later a young country-woman when asked the same question replied promptly and
firmly that she had voted because her vote would help the man she had chosen to be
Prime Minister. The great majority of the countless people whom we asked said that they
had “voted for peace”.
45. We think that in the rural areas the pressures of the war may actually have
strengthened the determination of the people to vote, except where they were terrorised
into staying away. We believe that in general they knew the object of casting their vote.
We certainly did not receive an overall impression that people had voted because they
had been forced to do so.
46. Nevertheless the pressures expressly related to the election were by no means the
monopoly of the guerillas. First we will describe these other pressures.
THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL DIRECTORATE CAMPAIGN
47. The Directoate, under Mr. Malcolm Thompson, consisted of seven members and a
secretary, including the Registrar-General and representatives from the Ministeries of
Information and Internal Affairs, Army and Police. They were appointed in January 1979
and had been told to organise the Common Roll election. There had been no political
interference. They told us that they had four objectives:-
a. To educate and motivate 2.8m largely illiterate Africans into a democratic process
which was alien to their culture and tradition;
b. To organise an election in a time of war;
c. To keep the polling stations and the voters safe;
d. To convince reasonable opinion outside the country that the elections were free and
48. It was clear to us during our stay in Rhodesia that the whole apparatus of Government
was available for those tasks. Although we are certain that the election was run in a way
which was impartial as between the parties, we also have no doubt that there was a high
degree of motivation to ensure that there was the largest possible turn-out of voters and
that they should be sufficiently educated to cast valid votes. NED members variously
said, “our prime aim is to get the maximum number of papers in the boxes”; “Our
survival depends on persuading the world that the election is free and fair, and so we can
49. We would not wish to criticise most of the educative work of the Directorate. From
what we saw at the polling stations, they and the parties had instilled a substantial degree
of political awareness, which even included the implications of the UK General Election.
The mechanism of voting was almost universally understood, the women of all ages were
as assiduous to vote as were the men. Nor can we find fault with the two slogans adopted:
“We are all going to vote”, and “That is what the people want”.
50. The range of leaflets and strip cartoons used in the campaign appear as Appendix E.
We put it to the Directorate that some of these appear to have promised too much. They
did not accept this. A group of senior black policemen whom we met denied that the
campaign amounted to intimidation because, they said, to the words of encouragement to
vote there was not added “... or else”. Mr. Ian Smith did agree that there was a point in
51. The authorities were clearly in a dilemma. On the one hand they were dealing with a
largely illiterate electorate, the vast majority of which had never voted before. Certainly
in the Tribal Trust Lands, the women had never been included in any decision-making
process and they were being called upon to take full part in a sophisticated election.
There were the obvious and considerable pressures of the guerillas directed to preventing
any vote at all. There was a great deal of explaining to be done. On the other hand it was
certain that if too much pressure was brought to bear, it would be said that the election
was “rigged”. We are clear that in no case did the authorities attempt to direct the vote
towards any political party; that was left to the political parties themselves. But it is true
that the whole weight of the administrative machine was exerted in order to get as many
people to the poll as possible. We are satisfied that no actual threats were used by the
authorities. It is interesting to remember that in Australia voting is compulsory.
52. We are of the view that the authorities went to the limit of the permissible in its
propaganda and in a few cases beyond it. But in the circumstances of the time, with
intimidation and murder rife throughout the country, we conclude that on balance the
pressures exerted by the Directorate in its propaganda were not of such a nature that the
result of the election should on that account be described as invalid.
THE POLITICAL PARTIES' CAMPAIGNS
53. After a short time at the beginning of the election campaign, when, in a limited
number of areas arrests were made for minor thuggery and intimidation, we were told on
all sides that the parties did not indulge in intimidatory tactics. Political parties had to
obtain permission from the police to hold meetings. In the event this was in the nature of
a formality and we were told that in no case was a meeting not allowed to take place. No
complaints were made to us by any political party on this point. We accept that there was
no question of the authorities trying to prevent a political meeting. If anything, the
authorities tried to see that there was maximum political activity.
54. There was no repetition of the clashes which attended political activities in the early
1960s. Certainly the authorities advised moderation, and we heard of no incidents which
had caused the parties to complain about each other. Considering that the UANC
appeared to have far superior badges, flags, posters, hats and other accoutrements we
were agreeably surprised that the other parties expressed so little envy.
55. This is not to say that the opposing policies were not advocated to the public. There
were many political meetings (see Appendix F) and heavy canvassing in urban areas. In
the countryside, however, the candidates had, not surprisingly perhaps, needed
encouragement to venture forth, because of the guerrillas. It was clear that the war did
have an effect in reducing normal party activity in rural areas.
56. We do not consider that the parties provided the electorate with any more than the
normal political persuasion; neither do we believe that, in the event, rurual voters,
informed at least by word of mouth and radio, suffered from any significant lack of
knowledge upon which to choose the party which they preferred. It may be worth noting
that, where people were voting for "peace", this could have been just as much the result
of the politicians' campaign, all of whom promised a policy for peace, as of the National
Electorate Directorate's propaganda to the same effect.
TRANSPORT OF VOTERS BY EMPLOYERS AND THE SECURITY FORCES
(a) By Employers
57. There had been encouragement by the Directorate for employers to assist in the
electoral process: A number of different methods were used to convey employees to the
polling stations, and we sought to discover whether it would have been practical for an
employee to have remained behind. Some employers arranged transport for their
workforce department by department, and we think it would have been a brave person
who did not join the rest on the truck. One Government workshop in Salisbury had
arranged for the vehicle to go at given intervals, so that the employees had several
chances; and some were encouraged each time to stay in each department so as to keep
the work going. A small butcher had been asked by his employees to take them to the
poll, and all had been on the truck. In European farming areas transport was arranged by
the farmers, and at one place we were told that only the most pregnant women, the sick
and the infirm were left behind - but it was pointed out that with the numbers at the
polling station a person could dodge around and avoid the voters queue. And, of course,
anyone could spoil their paper, or leave it blank. Both the African and the White Farmers
Unions denied bringing pressure to bear.
58. Where we do have our doubts are the instances where mobile stations visited, by
arrangement, European farms to collect the votes; we observed one such exercise, with
the workforce and families already assembled and waiting. We cannot see how they had
any option but to vote. This was the only place where the arrival of the helicopter
produced no noticeable signs of enthusiasm.
59. But it would be wrong to judge this aspect of the election purely by European
standards. It is the African-Rhodesian tradition to proceed by consensus. In the Tribal
Trust Lands, decisions are arrived at by the gradual emergence of such a consensus which
is then enunciated by the chief and adhered to by all. The fact that the whole of the
workforce of a farm goes to the poll is not, therefore, surprising if the general view is that
they should vote. Furthermore, in the rural areas it was often necessary for the farmer to
provide transport and time-off so that the workers could vote. If the farmer had not done
so no one could have voted at all. The same was often true in the mining and industrial
60. It is extremely difficult, therefore, to give a final judgement on the issue of whether
undue pressures were exerted by employers to get their workers to vote. It is also
possible, of course, that undue pressures were not in fact brought to bear, but that in the
minds of the workers they were. It was said that in some cases employers threatened
workers with dismissal if they did not vote but we saw no evidence of this. All we can
say is that in our widespread programme of visits we saw no signs of reluctance to go to
the polling stations.
(b) By the Security Forces
61. A certain amount of transport, led by mine-proof vehicles was provided, although
vehicles were in short supply. That this was wise is proved by several incidents of
civilian transport taking people to vote, thereby detonating land-mines with the deaths
and horrific maiming and injuries which these devices can cause. We do not consider that
military transport so used amounted to intimidation. The vehicles were too precious to be
sent unless a request was received, and all that they did was to collect those who were
waiting beside the road. We saw one truck arrive from a village 7 km away, in an area
where guerrillas were present. Some of the villagers had made their own way to the
polling stations the previous day, and this truck contained all of the rest of the village's
voters who, evidently, had been encouraged by what the others had told them. They did
not look like people voting as a result of pressure, nor did they say anything of the kind.
Indeed, at Victoria Falls we heard that some voters from the Tribal Trust Lands had
preferred to vote in the town rather than at the local polling stations provided for them.
They had waited by the road, but there was not enough transport to bring them all in,
even though the parties helped with their own vehicles.
62. Escorts were also provided on foot by the Security Forces; one such group of 100
would-be voters was ambushed by 20 guerrillas; they lay down, as they had been told,
and the guerrillas were driven off. Everyone then proceeded on their way with the escort
and cast their votes (and one slight casualty was given treatment). Without the escort they
would, we are sure, have run away, and we incline to think that this was (as claimed) an
example of protection being granted to voters rather than any form of coercion.
63. We were also told that in a number of cases people asked to be taken to the polling
stations by the Security Forces so that they could give the excuse to the guerrillas
afterwards that they were forced to go. We believe this to be true.
64. It is also worth noting that the UN Mission which observed the referendum and
election in French Somaliland in 1977 said the following:
"All transportation was provided free and, in addition, free food was made available in
some areas for nomads coming from long distances. Both of these facilities - transport
and food - were essential if the voters were to exercise their voting rights."
65. The collection of the rural population into large settlements behind wire and with a
permanent guard force pre-dated the 3 March Agreement by some time. It had as its
purpose keeping the farmers and villagers free of guerrilla intimidation and denying the
latter the food and solace which they could otherwise easily obtain. Its disadvantage,
from the administration's point of view, was that intelligence became much harder to
66. The Transitional Government decided to take action on protected villages, since these
were an emotional issue and a matter for hostile propaganda. Some were dispersed, with
the result, we understand, that the inhabitants tended to go to another such village still
existent, and ask for admittance. Having visited several such villages and talked to their
inhabitants we are sure that they are no "concentration camps". To the families who live
there the system has its inconveniences. The main one is the distance which lies between
the village and families' farm land which they continued to cultivate unless they had been
given other land closer by. Apart from that these protected villages were, we heard from
their inhabitants, a haven.
67. If the war ended, said some old men in such a village in Manicaland, they would wait
a while and then go back to their kraals. They had all voted, but they said that nobody had
come in from the Tribal Trust Lands to do so, because of fear. The vast majority of those
living in protected villages voted on the first day. We talked to many of them after they
had voted. We are quite clear that they do not look upon their residence in such villages
as an imposition, but as a relief; and that the system of protected villages did not
constitute intimidation by way of forcing people to vote.
SECURITY FORCE AUXILIARIES
68. These started as private armies owing allegiance to UANC or ZANU: Chief Chirau
had none. There is no denying that in their early days, they were out of control and were
intimidating people on their respective party lines.
69. There has been a rapid and very recent devlopment whereby most (but not all) of the
units are being integrated into the Security Forces. Where this is so, they have their own
section commanders but are effectively under the control of army, police or special
branch. They are having their successes, but leadership is a problem. They include among
their numbers former guerrillas who have been converted, and captured guerrilla diaries
show that the Auxiliaries are depriving the guerrillas of food and local contacts. The
Security Forces say that they have weeded out almost all of the riff-raff who had at one
time been on strength; and the contingents which we saw were plainly an integral part of
the more traditional force providing protection for a polling station. There are still a few
units, which have a primarily political allegiance, operating in areas of intensive guerrilla
activity. The most we could discover about their behaviour was from a Brigadier in
command of a Joint Operations Committee, who hesitantly guessed that they provided
reassurance to the population rather than the reverse.
70. There was a reason why we saw little of them: they had not usually been deployed in
the close guarding of polling stations lest the suspicion, or perhaps the actuality, of
political party influence might have emerged.
71. It is not for us to criticise the growth and development of these forces; it does appear
to us that they have been brought mostly under control, that they offer a useful role for
the converted guerrilla and that they add to the numbers of anti-guerrilla forces, with a
particular suitability for deployment in the Tribal Trust Lands. That is where they have
been during the election and on balance we would estimate that they have helped to
counteract guerrilla intimidation without replacing it with an equal pressure in another
direction; but we could not be certain that in some cases the SFAs did not pressurise
people to vote for their particular political party.
72. We investigated the matter of censorship. We were told that there were two kinds in
a. Military Censorship. During the election this only applied to the internal press and all
restrictions on the external press had been lifted. The internal press was required to
submit copy in terms of Section 42a of the Law and Order Maintenance Act. This only
applied to military matters. Editors could publish copy on anything else as they pleased.
b. D Notices. These had been issued to cover mention of the names of Mr. Nkomo and
Mr. Mugabe and their parties. Photographs of them were not allowed. The National
Security Committee, however, could give permission for publication.
73. It was, however, true that a number of publications had been banned. It was
impossible for us to be certain whether this had happened purely on military grounds or
whether there may have been other political reasons for the banning. It was certainly true
that the media - press, radio and television - were clearly in favour of the holding of the
election and hoped for a high turn-out. We saw no articles, for instance, urging people not
to vote. We were told that this would have been possible but we are by no means certain
about this. Very wide powers were available.
74. We can understand the necessity for military censorship but we had to address our
minds to the problem whether a free and fair election could be held in this environment.
There were, of course, frequent broadcasts from outside the country aimed at disrupting
the whole election and hoping to influence people not to vote. On top of this there was, of
course, guerrilla activity with the same purpose in mind.
75. On balance we believe that, although censorship certainly did not operate so as to
give any preference to any party competing in the election, it may well have prevented
the mounting of a campaign against voting at all. This has to be set against the other
pressures to which we have referred. We therefore conclude that censorship in itself did
have an effect on the election although not to the extent that it invalidated the results.
76. By way of suggestion that the elections could not have been free or fair, critics have
said that "martial law covers 85% of Rhodesia, an admission that civil administration has
broken down in most of the country". It is true that martial law has covered
approximately 70% of the country since September 1978 but we looked into the
implications of that fact to see whether this constituted intimidation by the authorities. In
fact the legal situation is much more complex than this criticism suggests, since the
majority of activities frequently associated with martial law can also in Rhodesia lawfully
be carried out by the civil authorities and the Security Forces under Emergency
legislation. Ordinary civil law has, in fact, not broken down.
77. Martial law was introduced in September 1978. We were told that its application was
in practice limited to four main areas - trials, punitive action, detention and curfew.
78. Trials under martial law were held only when persons had been involved in crimes
connected with terrorism and where the necessary witnesses were either unavailable or
would themselves have been murdered had they given evidence.
79. As far as punitive action is concerned, in the early stages of the operation of martial
law it was possible for an officer of the rank of Major or above, or the civilian equivalent,
to order the burning of huts, the destruction of crops and the slaughter of cattle when in
his view the population had been helping the guerrillas. This authority was rescinded
early in 1979 and no such action could be taken without express authority from the Joint
Operations Committee in Salisbury. This led to a great reduction in the number of such
80. Detentions without trial were possible under the Emergency Powers Legislation
without the use of martial law. We were told by the Commissioner of Police that 232
persons were detained under this category on 16 April, 1979, the day before the election.
To this figure must be added those detained under martial law. In particular we were told
that about 100 persons were taken into custody just before the election because of
evidence discovered during the raid on Francistown in Botswana on 12 April. 13
detentions under martial law took place during the week of the elections. The total figure
of detainees of 4000 given to us by the representative of ZAPU, whom we interviewed,
was of a completely different order of magnitude to that supplied to us by the authorities.
We are of the view that total detentions were very considerably less than the ZAPU
81. Curfews cover wide areas of the country. They are imposed under the Emergency
Powers Legislation. But martial law allows authorities to arrest anyone breaking the
curfew and he or she can be shot. This, admittedly draconian, measure is, we were told,
rarely used and only if the guerrillas are directly involved. The curfew does, however,
have a very direct impact on the lives of large sections of the population, particularly
among the large majority who have no wrist watches: it is resented by them. As far as the
evidence is concerned we neither heard nor saw any evidence to the effect that the
imposition of a curfew prevented people from voting.
82. We set out at Appendix G what we were told had been the use of martial law in three
large operational areas, in Mount Darwin, Gwanda and Umtali.
83. It is essential to appreciate that in all areas covered by martial law the police are still
operating in the normal way. For instance in connection with the elections there have
been the usual political activities prior to the poll, including many meetings. Meetings in
martial law areas needed permission, which we were told was always granted subject to
conditions as to the time of day. In 1979, unlike the inter-party warfare and intimidation
in 1962-63 to which the Pearce Commission referred and which is still vivdly
remembered, the parties have campaigned peacefully. There was, as we have said, a
certain amount of thuggery and intimidation by party supporters in urban areas, in
January. This led to 123 arrests, and 99 people appearing in the ordinary criminal courts
on fairly minor charges; (59 were from UANC, 64 from ZANU). Even then events were
local. In Manicaland there were no election-connected offences committed at all.
Similarly at 100 meetings in South Matabeleland there were no criminal arrests.
84. Finally, we were told that one reason why martial law has been retained is that it can
be used by the rural population as a reason for their saying to the guerrillas that they have
been forced to vote, thus protecting them from reprisals.
85. Our conclusions were as follows:
a. We accept that the imposition of martial law may well have been necessary for security
b. In the early stages of the application of martial law, its use was probably unnecessarily
c. To a large extent this has been rectified.
d. In the run up to the election and during the electoral process itself martial law did not
inhibit political activity.
e. Martial law has been supplementary to the civil law and has not replaced it.
f. If anything, the punitive action which had been taken, although arguably necessary
from the security point of view, would have dissuaded people from voting rather than
encouraging them to do so.
INTIMIDATION BY THE GUERRILLAS
86. Mr. Nkomo's guerrillas (ZIPRA) are trained in Zambia and Angola. They are based in
Zambia and Botswana. We were told that there were 16,000 under training, 3,000 outside
Rhodesia but fully trained and 2,700 inside Rhodesia. Mr. Mugabe's guerrillas (ZANLA)
are trained in Ethiopia, Libya and Tanzania, and enter Rhodesia through Mocambique.
We were told that there were reserves of 13-17,000, of whom 6,000 are under training
and 9,300 operating in Rhodesia. The two groups fight each other, some say with even
greater ferocity than they fight the Security Forces, but this has mainly occurred in South
Matabeleland, especially Filabusi, and West Victoria.
87. The war has been going on since 1972. The following table gives an idea of the
Total deaths attributable to the war from 1 March 1978 to 31 March 1979
Average daily death
*This figure includes 105 victims of the two Viscount aircraft which
were shot down.
88. 1,111 schools have been closed, many of which are locally supported missionary
schools. The guerrillas have a proven record of atrocities and bestiality which beggars
description. The population of Rhodesia knows well of their activities in this respect. It
has been the avowed intent of both factions to wreck the election, and the Rhodesian
authorities responded with a massive call-up of army, airforce and police reservists,
which had the effect of precluding all but a comparatively few incidents. There were 13
attacks on polling stations during the election.
89. It is not our task in this respect to relate the detailed assessment of guerrilla aims,
training, methods of operation and discipline which have been fully explained to us. After
careful investigation we are satisfied that, in the Tribal Trust Lands especially, the
guerrillas with the help of the mujibas (young guerrilla auxiliaries) have for some months
been terrorising and indoctrinating the black population not to vote. Their psychological
approach has been most professional and they have been assisted by broadcasts from
Maputo, Lusaka and elsewhere, in English and three important African languages. We
must therefore try to assess whether this intimidation has, by itself or in combination with
other factors, led to the elelctions being other than free.
90. In the end our assessment must be a matter of impression, built upon what we have
seen and heard directly and indirectly from the people themselves. Of the guerrillas'
activities of which we heard directly during the election the most spectacular examples
a. On the first evening of the elelction guerrillas burnt out 24 sq. km of the Mtilikwe
Tribal Trust Land, south of Lake Kyle: 75% of the kraals were destroyed and the huts
were still smoking when we over-flew part of the area 36 hours later. Where the
inhabitants went we do not know but they were driven out first.
b. The almost complete failure of the polling station at Tadyanemhando in Central
Manicaland at which in three days only 221 people voted.
c. Within Inyanga district of North Manicaland there were three rural polling stations; the
guerrillas cleared the population from an area of 30 km round the polling stations and
told them to go into the hills and stay there. The District Commissioner estimated that
50% of the voters in that whole northern area had been frightened and stopped from
d. North of Ndanga hospital polling station, south east of Fort Victoria, some local people
had set out to vote. The guerrillas had been informed by the mujibas of this. The group
was turned back and told to hide in the hills.
e. The District Commissioner at Mount Darwin said that in one area where there was a
considerable guerrilla presence it had been impossible to put in a mobile unit. He also
said that at Pachanza the guerrillas had raided a Protected Village, cut the wire and driven
numbers of the people out into the hills. Some had drifted back and voted in other areas.
91. No doubt there were other similar stories; we know of these either because we were
on the spot or else were dissuaded from visiting polling stations such as Tadyanemhando,
or St. Mary's Mission in North Inyanga because the guerrillas had effectively brought all
activity to a halt.
92. The figures of total votes indicate, however, that very many of the people from the
rural areas did vote; they may have moved into the cities, or walked considerable
distances into urban polling stations rather than vote at the stations provided in their own
Tribal Trust Lands. We were told of this, for instance, by party workers at Umtali and
Rusape. We heard increasingly as the election proceeded that some guerrillas were telling
the local population that they could vote if "forced", or that they could vote "though it
would make no difference". This applied both to ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas: it had no
pattern and appeared, like many other things, to depend on the whim of the unit leader.
93. Then there was a pattern which we observed in the detailed daily reports from the
polling stations on Days 4 and 5 when we were in Matabeleland and Manicaland
respectively. On Day 3, mobile polling stations which had been waiting at Plumtree (on
the Botswana border) suddenly received crowds of cheerful voters, who said they now
thought it was safe to vote. Similarly, in an Umtali township party workers said that on
Day 4 they saw people they knew who had come in 35 km to vote, having waited in fear
two days to see if it was safe to vote. More party workers told us the same story of people
in the Chiduku Tribal Trust Land, near Rusape, who after guerrilla pressure waited for
two days before voting, many preferring to walk into the towns of Rusape and Inyazura
rather than visit the three polling stations in their Tribal Trust Land. Inyanga told us the
94. It was also clear that in many cases guerrilla attacks had not deterred people from
a. On the Tuesday evening (the first day of voting) Dotito (north east of Mount Darwin)
was attacked with mortars, rockets and copious small arms fire. Some 10 km away, but
within sight and sound, voters were still arriving at the nearby polling station at
Nyanzunza next morning. And at Dotito itself the voting figures below show that in spite
of the attack people came to vote in some numbers on the third day. The overall result
exceeded the expectations of the authorities.
First Day 2,426
Second Day 92
Third Day 326
Fourth Day 87
Fifth Day -
b. South of Fort Victoria in the Nyajena Tribal Trust Land, which has many guerrillas, a
mobile station was ambushed on its way in to collect votes from a crowd. As we left we
heard that 266 voters had remained until it eventually arrived, though many more had
c. At Zaka we were informed that the Security Forces, prior to the election, had found
that the local people wanted to vote, but were afraid. They were told that the army would
be around to protect them. Our informant had been on duty on the Tuesday morning 2 km
from the town when he saw a crowd walking in: one by one they began to run, and
apparently they beat on the gate leading to the polling station, which was not yet open, in
their eagerness to vote.
95. Above all, when we asked the voters why they had come to the polls their answer was
almost always that they had voted for an end to the war, for peace, for a return to
normality. There was no doubting the profundity of these feelings.
96. On balance, we think that such sentiments combined with other factors. Those who
waited heard that it was safe to vote; some moved out of their immediate area to other
polling stations; the Security Forces were seen to be around and the guerrillas remained
mainly inactive. Thus a five-day election and the availability of mobile stations, even in
areas beset by guerrillas, provided for the electorate the opportunity to vote, which many
of them took.
97. We do not consider that intimidation by either group of guerrillas so impeded the
elections that overall they must be regarded as invalid.
THE ABSENCE FROM THE ELECTION OF MR. NKOMO'S AND MR.
98. We are aware of the criticism levelled against the elections because supporters of
either wing of the Patriotic Front were not presented with candidates for whom they
could vote. Of itself, of course, the absence of candidates cannot be held to invalidate the
election unless they were prevented from standing. On this latter point we were given a
mass of evidence to the effect that Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe could indeed have taken
part in the consultations leading to the adoption of the constitution and also that they
could have returned and freely taken part in the election together with their parties after
the 3 March agreement on the constitution and, indeed, right up to the poll (see Appendix
99. We think that three separate groups of people should be considered. First, there are
the leaders themselves and their closest colleagues. On them we hesitate to make a
definite judgement because we did not have the opportunity to meet Mr. Nkomo or Mr.
Mugabe to hear their version of the story. Our tentative view is, however, that either or
both of them could quite well have participated in the consultations leading to the
constitution. They could, too, have presented themselves and their parties at the election
itself provided they were prepared to eschew violence. In the light of the statements in
Appendix H we do not believe that the administration could possibly have arrested them
or their lieutenants, had they sought to take part in the election.They chose, for their own
reasons, not to take part and we cannot accept that such a choice automatically imposes a
veto on the validity of the whole electoral process.
100. It could be that the election is open to more criticism on the grounds that the
ordinary voter had no opportunity to select a party which represented the aims of either
Mr. Nkomo or Mr. Mugabe. Among the ordinary potential voters we include Rhodesians
in the guerrilla forces, and we next consider them.
101. We are clear that the authorities did try to induce the guerrillas themselves to return
and to take part in the election. There have been various offers of an amnesty in recent
months. Recently, there was the Safe Return Policy, which involved dropping of leaflets
in Rhodesia and Mocambique, and the use of radio and word of mouth. It bore some fruit
but the result was not dramatic. This was followed by the guarantee which is attached as
Appendices I and J issued in late March, which was publicised by radio, television and
newspapers, as well as being distributed by hand through all available agencies; again the
response has been limited. Both UANC and ZANU sent brave volunteers to make contact
with the guerrillas, to offer a cease-fire under the Transitional Government, but this had
come to nothing when three parties of volunteers were murdered. The main reason why
none of these initiatives have been very is that in the guerrilla groups discipline is kept by
draconian methods: to pick up and read a leaflet brings execution. Even strip cartoons
have been a failure. As a result many guerrillas have not known of the amnesties;
interrogation of prisoners shows that some have, but do not believe them. They are quite
sure that on surrender they will be instantly shot.
102. All the same, some news has been getting through; guerrillas who have been
captured are invariably converted. The main reason is that they are not, as they expect,
shot, but are well treated. The more important co-operate by writing letters, such as those
in Appendices K and L and by revisiting their old operational areas with the Security
103. The guerrillas, of course, knew of the election which they had been ordered to
disrupt. We would, therefore, not have expected many of them to vote. We cannot accept
the argument that inability to vote for a party whose cause was being actively pursued by
force of arms must invalidate the election in which the rest of the population was
participating. We noted, however, that the political process represented by the new
constitution and the election had not been lost on the guerrillas. We were told, by people
whom we believe to be in touch with the guerrillas, that not a few were "sitting on the
fence" and were likely to decide, though not necessarily at once, whether they would
accept a black Government formed and operating as a result of the election.
104. Lastly there is the electorate at large, who may have felt themselves deprived of a
proper political choice because of the absence of either Patriotic Front party on the ballot
paper. We concentrated on collecting their views in Matabeleland. There Mr. Nkomo had
for long been seen by the amaNdebele people as their own leader, although he would not
acknowledge so restricted a position for himself. Chief Ndiweni's UNFP stood for a
federal system, in an attempt to preserve the distinct identity of the amaNdebele people,
but his party was formed only four months prior to the election, and he himself had no
part in formulating the constitution. The other parties had selected amaNdebele
candidates to stand for the two Matabeleland Electoral Districts, but it could be argued
that their influence would not suffice to protect their tribal interests within predominantly
Shona parties. We therefore asked a random selection of the public in Matabeleland this
question: "Would the election have been fairer if there had been on the ballot paper a
party, headed by Mr. Nkomo, for which you could have voted if you so wished?" This
complicated question we put through interpreters, and carefully checked to ensure that
the answers truly related to the question. There were some who said they did not know;
some that for themselves it was not unfair, but that they knew others who thought to the
contrary. One group after careful thought said that the election was unfair because it was
being held while Mr. Nkomo was not there. Another group, standing not 200 yards from
Mr. Nkomo's house in Bulawayo, said that the election would have been fairer had he
come back and stood; but that he had not done so "because he only wanted to win".
105. We appreciate that these people, interviewed in the vicinity of polling stations, were
unlikely to include anyone who had chosen to dissociate himself from the election
because of the lack of a Nkomo party. Further it must bear some significance that the
turn-out in the Electoral District of Matabeleland South was the lowest in the country;
and that the spoilt papers in the Matabeleland Electoral Districts was high, again
especially in Matabeleland South. This is where Mr. Nkomo was brought up. These
indications cannot be ignored.
106. It is, however, our considered conclusion that the verdict on the absence of Mr.
Nkomo and, by inference, Mr. Mugabe, was given by the size of the poll and the number
of valid votes cast. People were able to register a protest against the omission of Mr.
Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe from the ballot papers either by not voting at all or by spoiling
their papers, and on this latter point some did so. The fact was that the majority of the
electorate did cast a valid vote positively in favour of the parties who did stand.
107. Upon arrival at a polling station, a voter went through the following procedure:-
a. The voter was subject to a cursory body search.
b. The voter was observed and if necessary questioned on eligibility to vote.
c. If accepted, the voter put both hands in the machine which could detect the invisible
marking fluid on the fingers.
d. If accepted, the voter had the fingers of both hands immersed in the invisible marking
e. A ballot paper was then stamped, with a round or triangular stamp containing a single
letter, and issued to the voter.
f. The voter then went to the polling booth, marked the paper and folded it in four so as to
show the stamp.
g. The voter then personally placed the folded paper in the box.
108. That was the theory. We looked carefully for irregularities or abuses at each stage,
and we should say at once that we only received three complaints from party officials and
candidates whom we met at all the polling stations we visited.
109. Searches These were entirely for security purposes. In towns women were searched
by regular or reservist women police, but these were insufficient in number to cover rural
stations; there, the women were asked to leave their hand baggage (but not their babies)
outside. This was done because there are numbers of trained female guerrillas within
Rhodesia. We heard of no objections to the searches and were not able to find any
instances of weapons, etc. being found.
110. The person who had to check the voter's credentials was usually black. Frequently
he was not local to the polling station. In very few places were documents asked for
except to check a person who was for some other reason suspect. We therefore consider
whether the two criteria of residence and age for voting are likely to have been adhered
111. Residence in Rhodesia for two years. We were told that 19,000 people, of all races,
had entered the country within the last two years, of whom many were white. All of these
had immigration documents; some would no doubt be under 16, while others would have
been returning residents who we were told were entitled to vote. To this official figure we
ourselves would add some thousands of people returning from Mocambique who
certainly went through no immigration procedure but would have been allowed to vote
anyway as returning residents.
112. Only in one single case did we hear of a person being turned away from a polling
station on the residence qualification.
113. The requirement to be 18 years old. The police members of the National Electoral
Directorate told us that it was not unreasonable to assume that there were 750,000 people
in the country aged 14 to 18. At all polling stations which we visited, except for one (and
we almost always asked this question), some people had been turned away as being under
age. We witnessed people being turned away and also a few others, who had been so
requested, returning with documents to establish their age. We noted three things:-
a. Almost without variation, only a handful of people had been turned away as being
under age. This followed a constant geographical pattern and was the same whether we
inquired on Day 1 or Day 5. Both sexes were about equally involved overall. At one
Bulawayo township some girls repeatedly presented themselves, though under 18, but the
polling staff dipped their fingers and that ended it; this was an isolated instance.
b. Some polling stations were staffed entirely by teachers who, naturally, said they could
tell ages without much difficulty. At these stations there was no increase above the
general average of numbers turned away.
c. The large majority of people stopped on suspicion of being too young readily and
truthfully gave their age, even if the answer was 16 or 17. It was thought either that they
did not know the age limit or that they had been swept up in the general enthusiasm; and
when detected left without any complaint.
114. We think the marking fluid and the machine were wholly effective to prevent double
voting. It may to some extent have deterred people in the Tribal Trust Lands from voting,
and voters everywhere tended to look with wonder at their hands after dipping them; at
some stations they were allowed to look again in the machine to see the difference. The
system instantly detected the minimal numbers who, we were told, came to vote again.
(An affidavit on this point is attached at Appendix M).
115. Stamping the Papers There is in the Electoral Act a provision which allows papers to
be counted as good votes if they do not bear the polling station stamp, provided that the
total in any complete Electoral District does not exceed 5% of the votes cast (s.79(7)). If
the number exceeds 5% none of them may be counted. This provision was, we were told,
inserted simply to allow for human errors, but it was criticised before the election as a
method whereby the vote could be rigged. In the event in no Electoral District was the
percentage over 5%.
116. Marking the papers produced the most problems, though even here the incidence of
difficulty was not very great. The officials, in all areas, were quick and efficient. In some,
particularly in rural polling stations each person was given a verbal explanation what to
do. However -
a. In order to help the voter large placards had been issued to each polling station with a
blown-up picture of a blank ballot paper, and instructions in Shona or Sindebele. Where
these were hung varied as between polling stations, but in many cases such a placard was
placed, occasionally flat, in each polling booth. These placards tended to bear a number
of marks against various parties, and it seems likely that voters in some cases marked the
placard and may have left their ballot papers blank. Some presiding officers had noticed
or anticipated this, and had hung the cards elsewhere or shortened the string on the booth
pen so that the card was out of reach. We think quite a number of spoilt papers occurred
where such preventive measures were not taken. However, the total number of such
incidents could not have been very great since in no case were there more than nine such
marks and the average was three or four.
b. The Electoral Act (s.65 normally, but for this election s.175(11)) allows the presiding
officer to help a voter make his mark. This, of course, had to be done for the blind but
some of the old men and women also needed assistance. In the event such action was
comparatively rare, as in many cases there was a dialogue with the polling officers, even
from inside the booth. We do not know what was said since our interpreters were not
allowed inside the polling station; however, in one case such an exchange prevented an
old man marking the wall card. Where physical help was needed we were told that the
voter almost always knew which party he wanted to vote for, e.g. "The hoe" (UANC). On
the fifth day at Inyanga the presiding officer said she had helped 25-30 voters, by steering
their hand, but all had known which party they wished to support. However, earlier in the
election we did find one presiding officer who was using this power unnecessarily and
one or more of the parties had begun to complain about him.
117. Problems arose over placing the paper in the box, through voters requiring constant
reminders to fold their paper on emerging from the booth; and because the papers had to
be folded twice in order to be put in the box.
118. In general, we would make the following comments about the polling stations, their
staff and the conduct of the election:-
a. Although some ingenuity had been used in certain places to adapt unlikely buildings
into polling stations, heads and hands of the voters were not visible from outside the
b. The polling station staffs were mainly civil servants (teachers, agricultural and
veterinary officers, etc., with senior presiding officers, sometimes sent out from
Salisbury). They appeared to us to be meticulously adhering to their instructions and
behaving in a totally impartial manner. Indeed this was a hindrance to our inquiries, since
they were quite unable to tell us anything of how far the voters had travelled.
c. Occasionally we saw the padlock on a box hanging unsealed, but it always transpired
that the key was locked up elsewhere. Little things like this had clearly on occasion gone
wrong, but they were technicalities.
d. At most polling stations a contingent from at least one of the parties was present. Only
on the occasion mentioned in 116 (b) above and in one or two other minor cases had they
any criticism or complaint whatever, either of the election machinery or of each other's
activities. In many places there were bands of supporters engaged in "singing and
dancing", often in rival groups. But the atmosphere was of a carnival rather than a fight
for victory; the voters had put on their best clothes; the rival parties picked up and
returned their opponents' posters and flags; the factions sat in a row on a wall side by
side; the candidates would sometimes talk to us as a group rather than individually. Our
overwhelming impression was that the parties and the voters were participating in what
they considered to be a most important occasion, and that they were thoroughly enjoying
it. There was also a surprising degree of sophistication. At polling stations in different
types of area, many voters were aware of the international implications both of their own
election and of that shortly to be held in the United Kingdom.
e. In three polling stations we found the police checking people at the door for eligibility
to vote. This was, of course, wrong and it was immediately corrected when pointed out.
Because of the circumstances in which this happened and the general atmosphere of cooperation
between the polling staff and the voters which we noticed, we do not believe
there was any underhand purpose. The polling staffs were extremely busy and, wrongly,
the police had been asked to help in order to speed up the process of voting.
f. We must mention one incident which may be thought to constitute more than a
technical irregularity. There was an arrangement whereby a static polling station could,
with the authority of the provincial Joint Operation Command (and, we believe, of the
National Electoral Directorate) turn itself into a mobile, even though the presence
throughout the five days had been advertised as being in one place. In the Mutasa district
of Manicaland, a static station had been set up at the school at Tadyanemhando. The
school had been shot up by guerrillas on Easter Saturday; on the Monday or Tuesday
morning many of the men left for the week to work on European tea farms. They would
by then have known that the station was due to be open on Saturday when they would
have returned to their rural homes. It was known that the population was interested in
voting, but they said they wanted an escort. The Security Forces did escort them on foot
to the station, but we were told that they refused to vote on arrival. They were mainly
women, and it was thought that a guerrilla or fellow-traveller was in each group. Thus,
having collected a mere handful of votes, on Friday morning the station was closed and
sent elsewhere. The decision may or may not tactically have been justified, but the
process whereby an advertised polling station could thus be removed before the end of
the election seems to us a flaw in the arrangements made.
g. The National Electoral Directorate had told us that in some cases the polling stations'
staffs had required a direction by authority before they would act. This was said to derive
from fear of guerrillas since they would then give the direction as their excuse for acting.
Consequently a general direction was given under the Emergency Powers (Election)
Regulation 1979 and failure to comply with this was made an offence. We have heard of
two cases where teachers nevertheless refused to participate; at Shabani they were fined
about £15 and at Beit Bridge they still await trial. In the situation which faced the
authorities we do not consider this to be a serious matter.
h. Some criticism has been made about the bussing of voters across the boundaries of
Electoral Districts. For instance, in Mashonaland West, where six seats were to be filled,
Mr. Chikerema had been placed at the sixth position in the UANC list: so the UANC had
to win all six seats if he was to be elected. In this Electoral District the turn-out was 14%
of the official estimate of the population. Even if bussing was a contributory cause of
this, of which we cannot be sure, there was nothing illegal in such a practice since people
could vote anywhere within the country. We thus do not feel the need to make any
comment on this matter.
119. Our general conclusion was that the procedures at the polling stations were properly
conducted, that the vote was secret and that no pressures were brought to bear on the
voters during the process of voting. It was indeed a remarkable feat to man so many
stations in time of war and with no comparable precedent. It would have been surprising
if there had been no irregularities.
120. Thre of us were able to observe the count at the counting stations mentioned at
Appendix A. The procedures used were very similar to those in this country. They were
a. At the end of polling on Saturday, 21 April, all ballot boxes were sealed and taken to a
well guarded place of security. We had no reports of any attacks on these places and we
personally checked a number of them where we found nothing out of order.
b. When counting began on 23 April, the ballot papers were checked against the total
number issued, less those returned unused. Only minor discrepancies were found.
c. The ballot papers were then divided into the various political parties.
d. Papers which were regarded as possibly spoilt were separated, checked by the
presiding officer and if still regarded as spoilt were counted as such.
e. The ballot papers for the various parties were counted.
f. The result was communicated to Salisbury by telephone followed up by a written
g. All the ballot papers were sealed in boxes and delivered to Salisbury. The boxes can
only be opened by an order of the High Court.
121. In all the polling stations visited, party representatives were present as scrutineers
during the counting process and were allowed to observe every stage of the proceedings.
We made a point of asking whether they had any complaints. They all, without exception,
declared themselves to be fully satisfied.
122. We were particularly interested in the spoilt papers for obvious reasons and we all
made a point of examining them. The majority of them were blank. Some had more than
one mark on them. Some had large crosses covering the whole paper and a few had the
names of Mugabe or Nkomo or even Smith written over them.
123. There is no doubt in our minds that many of these papers were deliberately spoilt. It
is impossible to be precise as to what percentage of papers were in this category but it is
relevant that the percentage of spoilt papers in Matabeleland South (9.7%) and
Matabeleland North (6.25%) where Mr. Nkomo was still a considerable force to be
reckoned with, was much higher than the overall average of 3.55%. Of course, the fact
that this was the first election in the country on a one man one vote basis and that the
electorate was, to a considerable extent, illiterate, would certainly mean that the
percentage of spoilt papers would be far higher than that in Britain where this varies
between 0.1% and 0.2%. But even taking this into account, it is certainly true that there
was a measure of deliberate spoiling.
124. There were some variations in the counting stations as to the precise interpretation
of a spoilt paper. In particular, in some cases, when there were crosses against three of
the parties, the fourth one, unmarked, was taken to mean the party for which the voter
had voted. However, these variations were very minor and could have had no effect on
the result. We do not hold the view that the overall figure of 3.55% spoilt papers was
excessive and it certainly should not be regarded as invalidating the election.
125. Our conclusion was, therefore, that the count was properly conducted and that the
results did represent a true reflection of the way people had voted.
126. The electoral system used is described in paragraph 16. The election was conducted
separately in eight provinces.
127. Four parties (United African National Council, United National Federal Party,
Zimbabwe African National Union, Zimbabwe United Peoples' Organisation) contested
all eight provinces. One, the National Democratic Union, only contested Mashonaland
East. The symbols used are shown at Appendices N & O. In our view these symbols were
clear and the voters had no difficulty in distinguishing between them.
128. The overall results were:-
Party Votes % Seats
UANC 1,212,639 67.27 51
ZANU 262,928 14.58 12
UNFP 194,446 10.79 9
ZUPO 114,570 6.36 0
NDU 18,175 1.00 0
There were 66,319 spoilt papers - 3.55% of the total poll.
129. There were 1,802,758 valid votes. This represents 62.16% of the estimate of the
electorate made by the authorities (2.9m) or 51.51% of the higher estimate of 3.5m
mentioned by Lord Goronwy-Roberts in his exchange with Lord Hatch in the House of
Lords on 3 April 1979, (Hansard - columns 1791 and 1792), and by the latter in his letter
to the Telegraph of 10 April 1979. (The figure published in Rhodesia immediately after
the election, indicating a total of 64.5% included spoilt papers.)
130. Detailed figures broken down by provinces are as follows:- [This section omitted -
131. Of the 4,263 people in prison who were eligible to vote, 80.55% actually voted;
however in Matabeleland, where the poll was, as expected, low, only 51.4% chose to
132. Our conclusions were:-
a. Although not specified in our terms of reference our investigations were throughout
coloured by the phrase - "free and fair" - which has become common currency in this
b. In our view the elections were "fair" in the sense that the electoral machinery was
fairly conducted and above serious reproach. In arriving at this conclusion we have
applied the strictest Western European criteria.
c. The question whether the election was "free" is more complex. There is no doubt that
the people who actually voted were free to choose which party they wished to support. It
is true that in conditions of war, and with the other pressures which we have described, it
would have been impossible to hold a fully free election in the sense that everyone
qualified to vote could either do so or abstain precisely as he or she wished. However, in
our opinion, neither individually nor in conjunction did these pressures amount to such
curtailment of freedom or imposition of direction as to invalidate the election. On the
contrary the people expressed their own view, in numbers which demonstrate a
significant judgement on the constitutional basis of the election itself. They also
exercised their right clearly to choose the party which they wished to lead the next
d. Finally we note that neither Patriotic Front party proffered candidates for election.
Despite this we think that the result represented the wish of the majority of the electorate
of the country however calculated. ***
The whole sub-J.O.C. is under martial law except Centenary. There is a dusk to dawn
curfew. Wide powers are available so long as the incident is guerrilla-inspired. The
Security Forces arrest, and hand over to a court convened by the Martial Law
Administrator. The President would have to have legal qualifications; the other members
would normally be the District Commissioner and a prominent local civilian. The police
would prosecute and the defendant could be legally represented, and is so informed.
There have been no cases in this area and no such court has been convened.
There have been 74 pre-emptive detentions, the last in late February.
There has been one court-martial. One of a European farmer's work-force set up a
guerrilla ambush, in which the farmer was killed by a rocket. The key witnesses had
given statements under caution but had then joined the guerrillas, leaving insufficient
evidence for the normal criminal courts.
There have been 20 people detained for assisting guerrillas with food and information.
There have been seven courts martial, with no acquittals nor quashing on review. None of
the defendants chose legal representation.
There have been two death sentences:-
a. A commercial driver was taken by guerrillas to a kraal where the kraal headman said
he was to be shot, and he was. The headman pleaded guilty and was executed.
b. The wife and child of a European farmer were killed as a result of collusion between
one of their farm workers and the guerrillas. The farm worker pleaded guilty.
In neither case would it have been possible to obtain witnesses, since no witness would
have been allowed to live.
The other cases were less serious.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The remaining appendices are not here reproduced as these consisted
of photocopies of illustrated leaflets and brochures.
- Beaver Shaw
- Nairobi, Kenya
- I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011
- ► 2011 (10)
- ► 2010 (50)
- ▼ 2009 (146)
- ► 2008 (276)