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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Tackles Logistics For March 29 Ballots

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has established a national logistics committee to provide transportation and other support for next month's national elections, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The committee comprises officials of the Public Service Commission, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the Central Mechanical Equipment Department, the Air Force and other public-sector entities to ensure critical election-related services.

The commission was start training constituency election officers on Tuesday while presiding and polling officers would be engaged in March. Presidential, general and local council elections will be held on the same day, a departure for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Deputy Chief Elections Operations Officer Utoile Silaigwana told reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the commission has almost finished preparations for the upcoming elections.

But Elections Director Paul Themba Nyathi of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Patience Rusere that such logistical planning by the commission came as “too little, too late.”

Elsewhere, the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa took issue with a statement by the electoral commission saying it will only provide accreditation for coverage of the elections to journalists who can show they have been licensed by the Media and Information Commission.

The group said the Media and Information Commission's legal mandate ended last month when President Robert Mugabe signed an amendment to the much-criticized Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act dissolving that body to make way for the Zimbabwe Media Council, whose members have yet to be named.

MISA says the electoral commission should accredit all journalists without conditions.

The commission has put notices in local papers inviting journalists to register for the elections – but states that those without licenses from the MIC are not eligible.

MISA-Zimbabwe Director Rashweat Mukundu told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that the electoral commission’s license requirement will stifle the free flow of information as many legitimate journalists lack such a license but need to cover the elections.

More news from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...