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Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Group Urges Shift in Control of Voters List

  • Tatenda Gumbo
  • Sithandekile Mhlanga

Executive Director Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the creation of a new and legitimate voters roll can only be carried out by an independent body like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Tuesday that a bill to reform the country's electoral system is flawed because it leaves responsibility for compiling the voters roll with the registrar general, saying the Electoral Commission should do the job.

Under the Electoral Amendment Bill now moving through Parliament, the Office of the Registrar General retains control over the national voters list - albeit under the supervision and oversight of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said this will merely dilute accountability.

Other critics said that under the proposed bill, the commission has no direct control over constituency registrars, who will take voter information for the national compilation.

Executive Director Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the creation of a new and legitimate voters roll can only be done by an independent body, and that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is best suited to handle that task.

But Elections Secretary Seiso Moyo of the Movement for Democratic Change formation headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai defended the bill pending in Parliament, saying it will allow the electoral commission to work in a non-partisan way.

Nhlanhla Dube, a spokesman for the smaller MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, told VOA reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that his party is confident the ongoing constitutional revision process will give the Electoral Commission sufficient powers to carry out its duties effectively and impartially.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director McDonald Lewanika told reporter Violet Gonda that his organization agrees with ZESN, but believes the electoral commission itself is in need of a thorough-going reorganization. "We need an independent electoral management body. Clearly ZEC does not fit that particular criteria," he said.

Lewanika said the commission should be independently funded, its members should not be appointed by politicians, and it should not be under the authority of the Minister of Justice but operate directly under the authority of Parliament.

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