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)



Viscount Boyd of Merton
Viscount Colville of Culross
Lord Elton
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 Union
                                                  Leader: Rev. The Hon. N. Sithole

ZUPO.........................................Zimbabwe United Peoples’ Organisation
                                                  Leader: Senator Chief the Hon. J.S. Chirau

UNFP.........................................United Peoples’ National Federation Party
                                                  Leader: Senator Chief K. Ndiweni

NDU..........................................National Democratic Union
                                                  Leader: Mr. H. Chihota
(This Party only contested one province).

Parties based externally

The Patriotic Front embraces two parties:-

ZAPU........................................ Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union
                                                     Leader: Mr. Joshua Nkomo

ZANU........................................ Zimbabwe African National Union
                                                    Leader: Mr. Robert Mugabe
(this party is not to be confused with Mr. Sithole’s ZANU).

The military wing of ZAPU is ZIPRA - The Zimbabwe Peoples’ Revolutionary Army

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


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 races.


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 profound, question.

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 constitution.

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 Zimbabwe.”

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 system.


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 polling places.

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 no seats.

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 turn-out 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 their kraals.

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 answers.

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 low poll.

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.


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 fair.

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 gain recognition”.

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 our criticism.

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.


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.


(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 areas.

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 acquire.

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.


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 operation:-

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.

go to part 2 of Election in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, April, 1979

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