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ZEC, Security Sector Ties Big Threat to Free Zimbabwe Polls

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s close ties to the country’s security system and lack of transparency in the production of the voters’ roll compromises the electoral body’s ability to deliver a credible, free and fair election.

Launching its report titled, ‘Electoral Battleground: Voters roll rigmarole’, ZDI chairperson Rashweat Mukundu, said production of the voters roll must be done in a transparent manner.

He said civil society, local and international observers must be allowed to observe how the voters’ roll will be managed and deployed to polling stations.

The 19-page report says the security sector is systematically entrenched in the country’s political life and is capable of wreaking havoc.

Mukundu said the security sector poses a threat to democratic electoral processes in the country, adding that the transfer of power could be a problem if President Robert Mugabe loses the election.

He explains it is important for the electoral body to spell out the military’s role in the July 31 elections.

The report also says thousands of prospective voters, particularly in urban areas, did not register due to restrictive requirements and lack of publicity of the registration exercise.

The so-called aliens were also disenfranchised because of confusing messages on what was needed for them to register as voters.

Mukundu said these and other factors point to an election which won’t be credible free and fair.

But American ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, told journalists in the capital Thursday that people should not prejudge the Zimbabwe elections.

He spoke after handing over $50,000 grants to communities in three provinces. Mr. Wharton said he believes that local, Southern African Development Community and African Union observers will be able to sufficiently monitor the polls.

Zimbabweans go to the polls next week to choose new leaders to replace the uneasy government of national unity but civil society and other political parties doubt the electoral commission can deliver given the chaos that characterised last week’s special voting for police officers and other members of the uniformed forces.