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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Under Fire Over Pre-Election Redistricting

Independent local and regional election observers have expressed concern about the lack of transparency in the delimitation of new constituencies which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it has just concluded.

ZEC Chairman George Chiweshe was quoted in the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper that the bounds of 210 constituencies – increased from 150 under a 2006 constitutional amendment – has been completed. Chiweshe said presidential and general elections set for March won’t be postponed as the opposition demands.

Chiweshe said he will present a preliminary report to President Robert Mugabe on the delimitation results, which will eventually be tabled in parliament.

The commission is reported to have allocated 143 of 210 seats to rural areas where the ruling ZANU-PF party’s support is strongest. Only 67 seats were allocated to the urban and metropolitan areas dominated by the opposition.

Chairman Noel Kututwa of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said the ZANU-PF government has kept stakeholders in the dark on crucial election aspects.

Elsewhere, the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa said the electoral commission has no mandate to determine that the elections must be held in March, as talks between the ruling party and opposition have yet to be concluded in Pretoria.

Senior Program Officer Belinda Musanhu told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there should be an investigation into how the delimitation was carried out if stakeholders remain disgruntled with the process.

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