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Tsvangirai Puts ZEC in Charge of Voter Registration

Zimbabweans waiting to cast their ballots in the 2008 general polls
Zimbabweans waiting to cast their ballots in the 2008 general polls
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to start carrying out its constitutional mandate of supervising the registration of voters rolls by the Registrar-General’s Office.

The prime minister on Thursday met with officials from ZEC and the Registrar-General’s Office, as well as Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, acting Finance Minister Theresa Makone and Acting Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Nelson Chamisa, to assess progress in voter education and registration since their group's inaugural meeting in December 2012.

Details of the meeting are unclear, but after the meeting, the prime minister’s spokesman, William Bango, told journalists that Mr. Tsvangirai was unhappy that voter education and registration is running behind schedule.
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Bango said it was agreed that the Registrar-General’s Office will no longer handle voter registration. The Registrar-General’s Office has been accused in previous elections of tampering with the voter rolls.

Studio 7, in its own investigations, has found clear errors in the rolls. For example, the late former Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith is still listed as an eligible voter.

When asked about the prime minister’s announcement on Thursday, Registrar-General Mudede declined to answer any questions.

Joice Kazembe, deputy ZEC chairperson, said the commission is ready to start voter education and registration work as soon as resources are provided by the finance ministry. She said her commission requires $13 million to carry out the exercise.

Acting Finance Minister Makone said the money required by ZEC is available and that voter education and registration will start soon. However, she did not provide an exact date for the start of the exercise.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai, who as head of government business was tasked by the unity government principals to oversee election preparations, cut short his annual year-end leave to deal, in part, with delays in voter education and registration.

The Daily News newspaper also reported on Thursday that President Robert Mugabe is expected to return from his holiday in the Far East on Thursday, ahead of schedule, to resume work on revisions to the constitution.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have agreed that elections will take place this year after a referendum on the proposed constitution.

However, Zanu PF party officials have stated several times that elections should go ahead with or without a new governing charter, if differences over the new draft constitution are not resolved.

For prespective on this issue VOA turned to Psychology Maziwisa, the indigenization ministry’s legal advisor and deputy justice minister Obert Gutu of the MDC-T formation.
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