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NGOs Urge Zimbabwe to Restart Voter Registration Exercise

Zimbabwe’s civil society organizations want the government to re-start the mobile voter registration exercise that ended Sunday amid concerns that the program was marred by several irregularities resulting in many eligible voters failing to register.

Some civil society organizations that monitored the mobile voter registration exercise said the program failed dismally in its attempt to register as many new voters as possible as the nation heads for fresh polls to elect new leaders to replace the unity government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Solomon Zwana, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, told a news conference in Harare Tuesday that in light of the just-ended program’s failure, a fresh and transparent exercise should be conducted.

Mr. Tsvangirai on Sunday said Zimbabweans who failed to register under the just-ended mobile voter registration exercise should take advantage of a new exercise that will be conducted once President Mugabe signs the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment Number 20 Bill into law.

He said cabinet would discuss the voter registration every Tuesday until every eligible voter wishing to register is added onto the voters’ roll. Only then, Mr. Tsvangirai said, would the unity government principals discuss and agree on a date for the elections.

He said the elections will be held no later October 30 this year after key democratic reforms have been implemented.

Mr. Zwana said the exercise was characterized by inadequate human resources, inaccessibility to registration centers, and lack of adequate education and information on the process, among other things.

Irene Petras, director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Association, said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should also consider starting the registration of organizations that will be monitoring the fresh voter education and registration exercise.
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