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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Begins Election Preparations Despite Opposition Protests

Zimbabwe’s electoral commission says it will go ahead with preparations towards next year’s general elections, despite protests by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) about the voters register. This comes after the electoral commission began marking out constituencies ahead of the upcoming elections. The MDC petitioned the electoral commission, complaining that the voters register is in a mess and needs a total overhaul to remove people who had died.

But the electoral commission dismissed the MDC allegation and challenged the party to present evidence that proves its case. Sydney Masamvu is a Zimbabwean with the International Crisis group in South Africa. From Pretoria he tells reporter Peter Clottey the electoral commission is making a mistake.

“I think it’s a wrong departure within the spirit of the dialogue which is going on, and it is reported to be relying on such issues that are about to be concluded. I think the limitation of the constituencies in Zimbabwe should have been an exercise carried after the completion of the negotiations and within the spirit of the agreement is agreed by all negotiating partners. So, to the extent that ZANU-PF is moving ahead to finish the limitations of constituencies without having an input from the negotiations process, I think this signals a possible deal breaker,” Masamvu noted.

He said it was unfortunate the chairman of the electoral commission is calling on the opposition party to present evidence about the voters register, which Masamvu described as messed up.

“The voters roll has been messed up for the past 10 years. Actually what you need is really to start from scratch. You have an updated voters roll. There are lots of ghost voters. There are a lot of people who are living in the Diaspora. Our voter’s roll, everything, which is bad with our voter’s roll, is bad. So really, for the electoral commission to throw the challenge to the MDC when it is not a government, is not a ruling party, it’s not in government. It doesn’t have access to all the details, whatever is really trying to make things worse in the process,” he said.

Masamvu said the ruling party’s action has prompted some concerned citizens to call for the elections to be postponed.

“No wonder why these are issues which any right thinking Zimbabwean who is eager to see the resolution of this crisis was saying. It calls for the postponement for the elections to allow the voters roll to be worked on, and all the other accompanying issues,” Masamvu pointed out.

He reiterated his frustration with the electoral commission taking an action he described as one-sided stand.

“As much as the MDC is under pressure to participate, I think this move by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, is a unilateral move not born out of a negotiation process. I see this as a possible deal breaker, an event or a process, which has all the ingredients and the capacity to derail the talks. And I believe that ahead of the December 15th meeting where the MDC is supposed to make a decision on the talks, this development could actually work to expedite the collapse of the talks if it is not handled within the spirit which is coming out of the negotiation process,” he noted.