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No Cardboard Ballot Boxes In Poll, Says Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

Zimbabwe's elections authority said Wednesday that contrary to what was stated in its own voter education pamphlets, plastic, not cardboard ballot boxes, will be used in the presidential, general and local elections coming up fast on March 29.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said the reference to cardboard ballot boxes was mistakenly included in election information pamphlets it distributed nationally.

ZEC Chief Operations Officer Utolile Silaigwana said translucent plastic boxes will be used and have been ordered in sufficient quantity along with indelible ink with which to mark voters index fingers once they have voted, to prevent double-voting.

The commission also corrected a statement in its voter education materials saying that handicapped voters would be accompanied by police officers into polling booths.

ZEC Public Relations Director Shupikai Machereni told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that although the country is ready prepared or the elections, the exact number of polling stations has not yet been established.

Elsewhere, commission officials met with representatives of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city, to discuss security issues and the voting process generally.

Candidates and their supporters from Tsvangirai's MDC faction and that headed by Arthur Mutambara have been campaigning door to door, but have encountered hostility and at times received threats of physical violence.

Deputy Spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo of the Tsvangirai grouping said electoral commission officials promised to give them protection when they are campaigning.

Khumalo told reporter Chris Gande that the meeting was called to obtain information on the election process, saying the public is poorly informed because the ZEC has not authorized the Zimbabwe Election Support Network to educate voters.

More Reports From VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...