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Zimbabwe Elections Watchdog Urges Additional Reforms Before Next National Ballot

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Former Zimbabwe High Court judge Simpson Mtambanengwe, appointed chairman of the Electoral Commission by President Robert Mugabe, resides in Namibia where he sits on that country's bench

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has declared that it is generally satisfied with the composition of the new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, but warned that a number of issues must be addressed before the next elections, which could take place in 2011.

The non-governmental organization said in a report on the Electoral Commission that it is concerned that the Global Political Agreement which called for the panel did not address media plurality, the risk of violence or the disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans abroad.

The report notes positive aspects of clauses agreed in the Global Political Agreement, such as a five-day deadline for election results. But it criticized the re-appointment of the administrative staff of the defunct predecessor commission, which delayed releasing presidential election results in 2008 for more than a month.

ZESN Chairman Tinoziva Bere added that the chairman of the Electoral Commission should be based in Zimbabwe for greater effectiveness. Former Zimbabwe High Court judge Simpson Mtambanengwe, appointed chairman of the Electoral Commission by President Robert Mugabe, resides in Namibia.

In Masvingo, meanwhile, police shut down a photo exhibition organized by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association or ZimRights, showing images of political violence, confiscating the photos and arresting four people, sources in the organization said.

The ZimRights photo exhibition is the same one that was shut down in Harare last month.

Zimrights Director Okay Machisa said three of those arrested were released late Monday. But he said that the provincial chairman of the organization, Joel Hita, remained in police custody late Tuesday.

Machisa tells Jonga Kandemiiri that lawyers for the non-governmental organization are trying to obtain release of Hita and the photos.

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