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Referendum Observers Discord Widens Divisions in Unity Govt

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has invited applications for individuals and organizations interested in observing the March 16 referendum, creating discord in the unity government over the choice of observers.

Zanu-PF has opposed the accreditation of countries that have imposed targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe, with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations calling for all potential observers to submit applications and be properly vetted.

Individuals and organizations seeking accreditation are expected to send applications to the ZEC Chief Elections Officer Lovemore Sekeramayi for vetting.

Justice and foreign affairs ministers can also invite monitors and observers for the referendum and general election expected later in the year.

The applications will be vetted by the Observer Accreditation Committee.

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said the party was open to election observers but added that countries that imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe should not be accredited to observe the two national events.

Mr. Gumbo said though ZEC has put out advertisement in the Zimbabwe media for applications while vetting applicants, they should not consider applications from those countries.
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Constitution Parliamentary Committee co-chairman and MDC-Tsvangirai spokesman Douglas Mwonzora dismissed Zanu-PF’s call as ridiculous, saying the ZEC is mandated under law to call for applications from all stakeholders.

Mr. Mwonzora cited provisions of the Electoral Act saying they allow the country to invite international and national observers.

He said if the people of Zimbabwe adopt the draft constitution, the country will be supposed to bring in observers from all parts of the world.
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Nhlanhla Dube, spokesman of the MDC formation of Welshman Ncube told VOA the indecision as to who comes into the country to monitor and observe the polls and referendum should be taken at cabinet level.

He said Zanu-PF's attempts to block some observers will lead his party to take legal action.

Mr. Dube said though the March 16 day was drawing close, if the matter was unresolved; his party would take action so the national election has observers.
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Meanwhile, MDC-T secretary general, Tendai Biti, told a news conference at his party’s Harvest House headquarters Monday that his party is concerned about increasing violence targeting its supporters countrywide ahead of the constitutional referendum slated for March 16.

Biti urged the Southern African Development Community, guarantors of the Global Political Agreement, to convene a special session of the regional bloc to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe.

Mr. Biti said his party has recorded 140 cases of violence against its supporters since January this year including the suspicious death in an inferno of 12 year old Christpowers Maisiri, son of an MDC-T activist last weekend.

He said the MDC will ensure that there is peace in the country before agreeing to take part in general elections.

Biti dismissed an article carried in the Sunday Mail newspaper stating the government had secured funds for the March 16 referendum saying "that is totally untrue and misleading".

His assertion casts doubt on whether the referendum will go ahead as planned next month.
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