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Civic Groups Press Zimbabwe To Soften Electoral Laws To Allow Voter Drive

As Zimbabwe braces itself for presidential, parliamentary and local elections scheduled for March 2008, some civic groups says they are restricted by the country's electoral laws to efficiently conduct voter education programs.

Under the Zimbabwe Electoral Act, civic groups are prohibited from sourcing foreign funding to carry out their various voter education drives.

Civic groups said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission gave them only two weeks to carry out voter education programs, throughout the country, before the 2005 parliamentary elections. Many complained that the time was too short to effectively educate citizens about the voting process.

National Director Wellington Mbofana of the Civic Education Network Trust told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that time is fast running out for voter education campaigns to prepare citizens for the March elections.

Despite the restrictive electoral laws, some civic groups are pressing on with their voter education drives.

On Saturday, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition sponsored a "Rock the Vote Concert," in an effort to mobilize the youth to vote, seen to be oblivious to the significance of participating in the electoral process.

The organization said its inaugural Alternative Civic and Voter Education Campaign, aimed to create a peaceful political coexistence, by urging the youths, often used by politicians to carry out political violence, to vote for a worthy cause and become catalysts for positive change.

National Coordinator Jacob Mafume of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said his organization started its voter education campaign despite the prohibitive laws, because they believe it is vital for potential voters.

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