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Zimbabwe opens voters' roll for inspection


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Text: ZESN report on mobile voter registration

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By Fikile Mapala

THE Zimbabwe government is pressing ahead with preparations for the general elections pencilled for March 29, by announcing that the voters’ roll will be opened Friday for inspection by registered and prospective voters.

In a notice on Wednesday, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede said the inspection process will run for seven days from February 1 to February 7.

Mudede said the inspection of the voters’ roll would be done at ward level to allow for easier access by voters.

A total of 5 000 centres have been established in different wards for the inspection of the voters’ roll according to the registrar general’s office.

Mudede said: “The increase in the inspection centres is meant to accommodate the limited period in which the voters’ roll will be inspected. I want people to go and inspect the roll during the inspection period and not wait for an extension as the time left before the elections is short.”

The registrar general urged those with queries on the voters’ roll to direct them to his office before the close of inspection next Thursday, adding that those who have just turned 18 years could register for the forthcoming elections during the inspection process.

He said: “Inspection centres will open from 0700 hours to 1800 hours for urban constituencies and from 0700 hours to 1700 hours for rural constituencies. There might be some adjustments in inspection centres if deemed necessary to allow those who have not registered as voters to do so.”

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has in the past demanded that Mudede -- a close ally of President Robert Mugabe – be barred from running elections accusing him of rigging elections on behalf of the ruling party.

Pesident Mugabe has paid a deaf ear to the opposition demands, allowing Mudede to remain in charge of the voters’ role which the MDC says is in shambles.

The MDC has called for the establishment of an independent electoral commission to compile a fresh voters’ roll before elections can be held.

Mugabe has also ignored the opposition calls for an independent electoral commission or a new voters’ roll, preferring Mudede to manage the roll on behalf of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare, Mudede said the training and deployment of inspection and registration officers would be done over two days.

Mudede said: “The registrar general’s office will today (Wednesday) start the training of officers for deployment in preparation for the commencement of the inspection of the voters’ roll on Friday.”

President Mugabe, who turns 84 in February, has set March 29 as the date for the general elections and February 8 as the day the nomination court will sit to register candidates for the general elections.

The opposition MDC has in the past threatened to boycott the elections demanding that the polls be moved to June to allow for the adoption of a transitional constitution and other electoral reforms.

The national councils of the rival opposition MDC formations -- who are on the verge of announcing a unity deal ahead of the polls -- are set to meet on Saturday to decide on whether the opposition should participate or boycott the general elections.

About 5.6 million Zimbabweans have so far registered for the presidential, parliamentary and local government polls.
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