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ZEC Puts in Place Committee to Accredit Observers and Journalists for Elections

ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau.
Harare continues to prepare for national elections on July 31 with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announcing it has established an observer accreditation committee to grant credentials to election observers for the 2013 harmonized polls.

According to notices in national newspapers, the committee will be chaired by ZEC chairperson, Justice Rita Makarau and will include her deputy Joyce Kazembe, ZEC commissioners Professor Geoff Feltoe, Bessie Nhandara and Daniel Chigaru.

Other members of the committee are Joseph Jambo from the President’s Office and Cabinet, Maxwell Ranga from the ministry of justice, Chrispen Mavodza from the ministry of foreign affairs and Stephen Phineas Museki from the home affairs ministry.

Director Pedzisai Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute is skeptical about the committee’s composition.

He says the inclusion of officials from ministries under Zanu PF only makes the committee partisan.

“This stance by Zanu PF that they will not allow anyone who opposes them or anyone who scrutinizes their human rights policies and democratic deficits will not come to this election will be fulfilled by this committee because it is patently partisan and is patently pro-Zanu PF,” said Ruhanya.

He adds it is worrying that the country is going into another election with the same ZEC secretariat which was accused of bungling in the 2008 polls, failing to produce presidential election results for six weeks.

ZEC says local observers should pay $10 while African observers will pay a $20 accreditation fee. Foreign embassy observers will pay $50 and those from countries outside Africa will have to fork out $100 to observe the elections.

Zimbabweans working for foreign media houses will pay $50 to cover the election locals will be accredited for $10.

Applications from persons convicted for electoral offences or any other offence for which they were sentenced to imprisonment without an option of a fine will not be accredited, says the commission.

Similarly, organisations or bodies whose members have been convicted of electoral offences or an offence involving fraud and dishonesty will not be accredited.

Meanwhile, ZEC has announced nomination court venues throughout the country. According to the ZEC notice presidential nominations will take place at the High Court, Mapondera building in Harare. Others will sit at magistrates’ courts in provincial capitals and rural district council offices around the country.

Although ZEC says nomination day is 28 June, the constitutional court sits Wednesday to decide on six applications which could see the election date being changed.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary portfolio committee on defense and home affairs says it is satisfied with the on-going voter registration exercise.

Youth organizations, however, say they are concerned with the slow pace at which voters are being registered countrywide.

The parliamentary committee says after visiting registration centers in all the country’s provinces, it was left satisfied that with the challenges facing the officers from the Registrar General’s office, the teams were doing a good job.

But the Zimbabwe Youth Forum says the current exercise has failed to address issues that affected the first voter registration drive. The group says long queues, excessive waiting times, staff shortages and few registration centers have affected the process.