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Harare Seeks to Disenfranchise Foreign-Descended Voters

Opposition members of parliament resisting a wholesale rewrite of the constitution by the government say it has resorted to subterfuge to push through a provision that would restrict voting to native Zimbabweans and disenfranchise those descended from immigrants.

Officials of the Movement for Democratic Change say about 300,000 individuals born of parents from Malawi, Mozambique or other countries in the region are on voting lists at present, but that some 3 million permanent residents could be affected.

Birth certificates and other forms of identification indicate whether a person is Zimbabwean or of foreign extraction. But until recent years this distinction had little significance.

Until now, President Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has raised national origin as an issue in the electoral context, there has been no official form of discrimination.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asks the MDC’s parliamentary spokesman for legal affairs, David Coltart, why the opposition is up in arms.

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