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Women's Group Says Zimbabwe Opposition Faction Fixed Internal Ballot

Zimbabwe's Women in Politics Support Unit has issued a highly critical report on the congress held Oct. 27 in Bulawayo by the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai to elect a new chairwoman of the its women's assembly.

The report said the election by that congress of Theresa Makone, wife of Tsvangirai faction elections director Ian Makone, to take the place of former chairwoman Lucia Matibenga, ousted earlier in October, was seriously flawed and undemocratic.

The Women in Politics Support Unit based its report on first-hand observations of the proceedings of the congress, which according to the report was held in a Bulawayo restaurant operated by Thokozani Khupe, from which observers were barred.

The report accused Makone supporters of intimidation, vote-buying and other serious electoral irregularities. It charged that senior party officials including Khupe and acting chairman Lovemore Moyo exerted their influence to ensure Makone's election.

The women’s group said information on the congress venue was withheld from Matibenga and her supporters. The report said voting was by acclamation with no paper ballots that could be verified, while the gathering was not representative.

Director Rutendo Hadebe of the Women in Politics Support Unit told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the Bulawayo meeting did not rise to the level of a congress befitting a party that considers itself a government in waiting.

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