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Zimbabwe Election Group Urges More Time For Voters List Inspection

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a nongovernmental organization, has called upon the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to extend the period for inspection of the national voters roll for three weeks beyond the Thursday deadline now looming.

In another development, the government announced late Tuesday that the sittings of the nomination courts which approve candidates would be pushed off by one week to Friday, Feb. 15, the state-run Herald newspaper reported. The Herald quoted Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa on the decision.

Chinamasa also announced the elimination of a requirement for those running for local council seats that they produce proof that they owed no back rates or taxes.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said the registration process, which ends on Friday, and inspection of the rolls, have not been well publicized by the authorities.

The independent election monitoring body is also urging citizens to inspect the local voters roll and make sure they know in which constituency and ward they live.

This may not be easy. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not widely distributed a delimitation report giving the boundaries for the country’s 210 house constituencies and 93 senate constituencies - even members of parliament had trouble getting it.

Spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change grouping led by Arthur Mutambara said an extension of the inspection period would be welcome. He added that the the electoral commission is charging what he called an “exorbitant” Z$100 million (US$15) for a CD copy of the national voters list.

Elections Director Dennis Murira of the rival MDC formation of Morgan Tsvangirai said his party needs 2,000 copies of the voters roll, making the cost prohibitive.

Murira told reporter Carole Gombakomba that extending the deadline for inspection of the voters roll will only be helpful if the process respects the guidelines set down by the Southern African Development Community for democratic elections.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...