Zimbabwean Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede says his office has started scrubbing the national voters list to prepare for the presidential, parliamentary and local elections which President Robert Mugabe says must be held next year – despite wide agreement that the voters list at this point is so corrupted that it must be replaced.
Mudede says he will rely on village heads and chiefs in rural areas to weed out names that do not belong on the list - the deceased, for instance. But objections have been raised by the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change which says that traditional leaders for the most part have long-standing loyalties to ZANU-PF.
Chiefs Council President Fortune Charumbira last week sparked controversy after urging traditional leaders to support ZANU-PF even though the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing says chiefs and other traditional leaders should be impartial.
Mudede told state media taht traditional leaders will be helpful in identifying deceased residents who should not remain on the registry of voters.
Tsvangirai MDC spokeswoman Thabitha Khumalo called Mudede's move unacceptable.
But ZANU-PF Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo said chiefs and other such traditional figures can help ensure a clean register of Zimbabwean voters.
Qhubani Moyo, organizing secretary for the MDC formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube, told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that any list cleanup should involve government stakeholders rather than traditional leaders bound by patronage.
Zimbabwe Election Support Network Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that the process should not be left to chiefs and the registrar’s office as citizens should have the right to verify and correct their status on the list.