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As Elections Near, Zimbabwe Opposition Calls Voters Roll a Shambles

Zimbabwe's opposition parties and independent monitoring groups said Tuesday that they have unearthed huge discrepancies in the national voters roll, including the listing of a long-dead former colonial minister and 50 voters registered as residing at the address of a hairdressing business that belongs to a ruling party official.

The Zimbabwe Election Commission has so far been reluctant to give the opposition an electronic copy of the voters roll, providing only a scanned, printed version.

That voters’ roll reveals massive discrepancies between what ZEC has declared as to the number of voters per constituency and those actually on the roll, with variations in the number of voters of 30% against the benchmark in some constituencies such as Goromonzi South, Bulawayo Central, Gokwe Nembudziya and Chikomba.

ZEC completed a national redistricting exercise early this year to increase the number of parliamentary seats from 150 to 210 (which meant adding 90 constituencies as the constitutional amendment providing for the expansion of the house and senate made 30 seats which had been filled by the president or ex officio into elective seats).

In that redistricting exercise, the number of voters in any constituency was supposed to be within 15% of the benchmark for constituencies of 26,726 voters (based on the commission's count of some 5.6 million registered votes in the country).

The MDC took the matter to the high court after the electoral court ruled that it has no standing to compel ZEC to release an electronic copy of the voter’s roll.

Elections Secretary Ian Makone of the MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the discrepancies are huge and could tilt the upcoming elections in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

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