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UN Says Ready to Play Role in Zimbabwe Electoral Processes if Invited

Suspected ZANU-PF militants again disrupted a public hearing on the Electoral Amendment Bill, forcing a Masvingo meeting to be canceled after only three people had given their views on the reform legislation

United Nations Resident Coordinator for Zimbabwe Alain Noudehou said Wednesday that the global organization is ready to support the Southern African country’s electoral process but has not yet received a formal invitation from Harare to do so.

Noudehou told a media briefing marking the 66th anniversary of the founding of the UN that while the organization of elections is the sovereign responsibility of the country holding them, the UN is ready to provide assistance if Harare desires it.

He added that the United Nations is currently assisting Zimbabwe in a number of areas including the process of revising the constitution and organizing a national census.

Presidential Office and Cabinet Deputy Chief Secretary Ray Ndhlukula declined to comment on whether the UN would be welcome to monitor the next round of harmonized presidential, parliamentary and local elections widely expected sometime next year.

President Robert Mugabe’s long-ruling ZANU-PF has stated that foreign organizations with hidden agendas would not be invited to supervise elections. But the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai wants foreign observers in the country months before and months after a ballot to discourage political violence.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says holding a constitutional referendum followed by general elections will cost US$220 million the government does not have.

Suspected ZANU-PF militants, meanwhile, disrupted a public hearing on Wednesday in Masvingo town on the Electoral Amendment Bill, forcing the meeting to be canceled after only three people had given their views on the reform legislation now in Parliament.

A similar meeting in Marondera, Mashonaland East province, was disrupted Monday and a similar scenario played out in Mutare, Manicaland, on Tuesday.

Militants in Masvingo, many of them women, prevented participants from submitting their views by continuously breaking into song. Members of Parliament's committee on constitutional affairs had to abandon the hearing as they feared the fracas would degenerate into violence, correspondent Obert Pepukai reported.

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has asked those who believe the names of their deceased relatives may still be listed on the national voters roll should let the Office of the Registrar General know about it so such names can be removed.

ZEC Deputy Chairwoman Joyce Kazembe told VOA this is one way of cleaning the voters roll which critics have long maintained is fatally corrupted.

A recent analysis of the voters roll by the South African Institute of Race Relations found that some 2.5 million so-called ghost-voters were still registered.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association National Director Okay Machisa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the electoral commission should send mobile teams to rural areas to begin the process of removing the names of the deceased.

Others say that a new voters roll must be compiled from scratch.