November 8, 2004

Opposition: Irregularities in voter registration

Zimbabwe's opposition is accusing a committee appointed by President Robert Mugabe of tampering with voters' lists ahead of key parliamentary elections in March. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary general Welshman Ncube cited irregularities in voter registration that took place between May and July this year. "In our view, the voters' roll information submitted to your commission is incomplete and disenfranchises thousands of persons that should be entitled to vote," said Ncube in the letter.
On the other side, however, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo has dismissed the MDC's complaints, saying the roll was "unmatched and certainly much better than the one in Florida and Ohio". According to him, the MDC's "hysteria's over the voters' roll" is "designed to give MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai something to lie about in the meetings he is seeking with regional leaders".
Since his acquittal three weeks ago on charges of plotting to assassinate Mugabe, Tsvangirai has been lobbying African leaders to pressure Harare to postpone the legislative elections. Tsvangirai has so far met South African President Thabo Mbeki and Prime Minister Paul Berenger of Mauritius, and is scheduled to meet with other leaders. Mugabe's government has ruled out as illegal any poll delay. Ncube said when the voters' registration exercise was conducted "there was discrimination in the registration of voters in urban centres" where the MDC has its support base. According to the new roll, there are fewer voters in most urban centres. The MDC argued that given urban migration trends, "it is hard to believe that there could possibly be a decline in the number of urban voters". "It is clear to us that the voter registration process, and consequentially, the voters' roll itself, have been manipulated to secure even further reduction in urban seats," said Ncube in a separate letter to the Electoral Supervisory Commission. Ncube said from the updated register, Harare and Bulawayo, the MDC's strongholds, are going to lose a seat each after the new boundaries are fixed. (The Mail & the Guardian, South Africa)

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