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Operation Murambatsvina - Countrywide evictions of urban poor - Index of articles
ZIMBABWE: Call for new voters' roll after cleanup campaign displacement
August 05, 2005
- The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) has called on the
government to urgently produce a new voters' roll in the wake of
its controversial cleanup campaign, which has led to the relocation
of thousands of urban dwellers to rural areas.
A two-month demolition campaign targeting "illegal structures" -
mostly informal homes and markets in urban areas - has left around
700,000 people without shelter, while the UN estimates that the
forced evictions have affected up to 2.4 million people to varying
The ZESN said Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive Out Filth') had resulted
in voters being removed from their constituencies of registration.
"Operation Murambatsvina has resulted in the forcible displacement
of large numbers of urban dwellers. Although they are still on the
voters' roll, they are no longer able to exercise their right to
vote, since they are no longer resident in the constituencies where
they were originally registered," ZESN said in statement on Thursday.
Continued use of the current voters' roll would render the results
of any future poll questionable, the electoral body pointed out.
The statement came as the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) prepared to square up for a number of
rural and urban council by-elections. Mayoral elections will take
place next week in Bulawayo, the country's second largest city.
In terms of Zimbabwe's Electoral Act, voters can only cast their
ballots in the constituency where they are registered. Voters also
have to undergo a thorough vetting process that requires proof of
residence in urban areas, or a signed letter from the ward councillor
in rural areas, before they are allowed to cast their ballots.
In Bulawayo, the incumbent mayor and opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) candidate, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, said there had been
an alarming level of voter apathy during the last two months, while
the demolition campaign was being carried out.
"The cleanup operation displaced a lot of people and caused untold
suffering to many more indirectly. Those people who managed to return
to their old places are too busy reorganising themselves. Despite
the displacement and other effects, I am confident of victory,"
he told IRIN.
In the last mayoral election in 2001, Ndabeni-Ncube got over 60,000
votes, beating the ZANU-PF candidate, George Mlilo, who garnered
an estimated 12,000.
A senior official in the Attorney General's office ruled out the
possibility of a new voters' roll, saying registration was a long,
complicated and costly process, which the government could hardly
afford. Calls for a new voters' roll have mounted in the last five
years, amid MDC allegations that deceased people and absentee voters
formed a large percentage of the roll.
Several cases of alleged electoral fraud arising from 'irregularities'
on the voters roll are still pending before the Supreme Court. Zimbabwe
has refused to revise its voters' roll, claiming that its voter
registration and monitoring systems were among the best in the world.
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