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Zimbabwe Voters Trying To Register For March Polls Face Many Hurdles

With just four days left before a deadline Friday to register to vote in March elections, Zimbabwean civic groups say many citizens face difficulties in the process including not only documentation requirements but simply reaching registration centers.

A recent survey by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network found that most people in rural areas who had not registered during a mobile registration program late last year did not have enough money to travel to registration centers in district seats.

But the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has put the blame on the electorate, which it says in many cases failed to avail itself of that mobile registration program operated by the Office of the Registrar General. However, critics of that operation said it did not provide full geographical coverage and many mobile units lacked key materials.

The Combined Harare Residents Association, which has launched a campaign to urge Harare residents to register to vote, says urban residents face daunting challenges in producing the right documentation at registration offices. Among other items, voters are required to produce valid identity cards and proof of residence.

Chief Executive Officer Barnabas Mangodza of the Combined Harare Residents Association told reporter Carole Gombakomba that many of the thousands of people evicted from their homes in the government's 2005 Operation Murambatsvina ("Drive Out Rubbish") eviction-demolition drive have no legal proof of where they live.

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