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Civic Group Says Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Under-Funded, Inefficient

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission needs to improve its management of the electoral process leading to the presidential, general and local elections which are to take place on March 29.

The civic organization said that the recently ended process of voter registration and inspection of voters rolls showed for one thing that the commission should be better funded. Due to the limited computerization of voter rolls, commission staff had to use hard copies of the rolls to verify the registration of candidates and supporters.

ZESN also noted with concern that public entities such as the Grain Marketing Board are being harnessed to campaigning by the ruling ZANU-PF party, which continues as well to exert its influence through traditional leaders such as chiefs and headmen.

ZESN also expressed concern about the “cramped venues” in which the nomination courts took place, consequently limiting public access to the process.

Communications Manager Tinashe Mundawarara of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that attorneys are handling more challenges to election processes which prevented voters from registering and obstructed candidate registration in nomination courts.

Meanwhile, ZESN said it is waiting for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to respond to a request it has submitted for permission to conduct voter education.

The election monitoring group said it submitted an application to the commission on Monday, Feb. 11, seeking permission to engage in voter education. But commission officials have said that the matter requires a full commission decision, ZESN said.

ZESN National Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the group will continue its civic education programs avoid engaging in outreach to voters until it has received a green light from the electoral commission.

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