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Zimbabwe opposition plans demo against electoral commission

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean opposition parties under the banner of the MDC Alliance are planning a demonstration Tuesday to press the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to implement more reforms ahead for the July 30 general elections.

In a statement released on Monday, the MDC alliance which groups together seven political parties, three of which are off-shoots of the original MDC, is accusing the ruling Zanu-PF party, through ZEC, of plotting to rig the elections and through the withholding of the provisional voters’ roll.

It also claims that there is secrecy surrounding the identity of the company contracted to print the ballots.

ZEC has however denied that the opposition is being denied access to the provisional voters’ roll, saying that anyone who is interested can get it on its website.

ZEC Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba said recently that the electronic voters’ roll was available for free on the ZEC website.

“The provisional voters’ roll is available as a link. There is a link that we have made available and anyone requiring it is free to access it and we have made this known to political parties in our regular meetings,” Chigumba said.



Zimbabwean government rejects United States claims on upcoming vote

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government said Monday it has taken adequate executive measures to ensure free, fair and credible elections set for July 30 this year.

It said this in response to recent claims by United States senator Chris Coons that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration was making empty promises and deliberately delaying implementing key electoral reforms to disadvantage the opposition.

“First, government has guaranteed a peaceful poll, which is why the President has been unambiguous in his call for peace as well as taking the unexampled decision to meet with opposition parties once the Nomination Court has confirmed who is genuine and who is not,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba as saying.

Charamba said the new Zimbabwe government had taken steps to guarantee a credible poll which included inviting international observers and adequately resourcing the electoral body to smoothly run the elections.

He said the Zimbabwe government would not interfere with the operations of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in running the poll.

“Maybe what is unclear to the Senator (Coons) is that ZEC is a constitutional creature whose independence is provided for in the law. Whether, when and how it release the voters’ roll and in what format, is for it to determine without undue influence from any player national or international, inside government or outside government,” Charamba said.


Commonwealth begins assessing Zimbabwe’s fitness for readmission

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Commonwealth has started assessment of Zimbabwe’s fitness to rejoin the grouping with a seven-member team arriving in the country for pre-election observation, the Zimbabwean government said Monday.

Head of the Africa, Governance and Peace Directorate Yvonne Mensah is leading the team, which arrived early Monday morning and will be in the country until Thursday.

The visit follows Zimbabwe’s notification to the grouping of mainly former British colonies that it wanted to rejoin it after having left in 2003 following disputes over governance issues.

Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland recently said that the country should demonstrate that it complied with the fundamental values set out in the Commonwealth Charter.

These included democracy and the rule of law plus the protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.

She said following an invitation by Zimbabwe to observe elections to be held on July 30, observations made during the period would form part of her informal assessment of the country’s fitness to rejoin.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo told journalists after meeting the team on Monday that Zimbabwe’s re-admission would likely be decided at the end of the year.

He said the formal application to rejoin would be made after the Commonwealth decision had been taken.

“Zimbabwe has indicated it wants to rejoin the grouping and it is within this context that the group has come to observe after we extended an invitation for them to come and observe our elections,” he said. 


Zimbabwe sets categories of people,organizations eligible to observe July 30 polls

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has set categories of people and organizations who will observe the forthcoming elections.

It has also maintained the same accreditation fees for observers that it set during inspection of the provisional voters roll May 19-29.

In a statement Friday, ZEC said applications would be considered from individuals representing local organizations and eminent persons from within the country; individuals representing foreign organizations and foreign eminent persons; and individuals representing bodies that exercise functions similar to those of ZEC and that had been invited by the commission to observe the elections.

Also covered are individuals representing local organizations and eminent persons from within the country who were invited by the minister responsible for justice and legal affairs to observe the elections and individuals representing foreign organizations and foreign eminent persons who were invited by the minister responsible for foreign affairs to observe the elections.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday proclaimed July 30 as the date for general elections for president, legislators and local authority councilors.

The accreditation will cover the elections and the counting and collation of ballots.

ZEC said local observers will still pay 10 U.S. dollars as was the case during inspection of the provisional voters’ roll, while those from the continent will pay 20 dollars.

Observers from foreign embassies in Zimbabwe will pay 50 dollars, while those from any country outside Africa will part with 100 dollars.

Zimbabwean journalists accredited with the Zimbabwe Media Commission and working in the country for foreign media houses will pay 50 dollars while those working for local organizations will pay 10 dollars.

Journalists from Africa will pay 20 dollars, ZEC said.


Zimbabwe parliament expels more ruling party legislators

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s Parliament on Thursday expelled three more ruling ZANU-PF legislators after the party indicated to the August House that the trio no longer represented its interests.

National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda said the expulsion of the three was consistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Friday.

This brings to around 20 the number of ZANU-PF legislators that have been expelled from parliament since President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumed office in November last year following the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe.  

ZANU-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo did not state reasons for the expulsions but the three had been barred from participating in the party’s just ended primary elections because of pending disciplinary issues.

One of the expelled legislators, Masango Matambanadzo attended a rally for the opposition National Patriotic Front (NPF) at the weekend where he announced his defection to the new party that has the backing of former president Mugabe.

Zimbabwe will hold national polls on July 30 to choose the president, National Assembly members and councilors.


Former Zimbabwean minister who returned from exile appears in court

HARARE, (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s former government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was on Friday picked up by police and brought before a Harare Magistrate facing charges of violating the Immigration Act by unlawfully exiting the country, state broadcaster the ZBC reported.

Kasukuwere returned last week after more than six months in self-imposed exile outside Zimbabwe.

Kasukuwere is among members of the G40 faction that went into hiding outside the country following the military intervention that resulted in former president Robert Mugabe resigning in November 2017.

Another member and Kasukuwere’s brother, Dickson Mafios, was on Wednesday sentenced to 11 months in prison with an option of a fine over the same offence.

Mafios was convicted on his own plea of guilty when he appeared before Bindura magistrate Vongai Guwuriro.

He was eventually sentenced to six months in jail with an option to pay a fine of 300 U.S. dollars, while the other five months were suspended on condition that he does not commit a similar offence in the next five years.


China releases funding for Zimbabwe’s largest power station expansion project

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- China has released funding for Zimbabwe’s largest power station expansion project - the expansion of the Hwange power station, paving way for commencement of work, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed on Thursday.

The release of the funding follows the successful visit to China by Mnangagwa in April. The project, to be undertaken by Chinese firm Sinohydro, will add 600 megawatts of electricity into the national grid when complete.

Currently, the coal-fired station has six units with an installed capacity of 920 megawatts.

Chinese commercial counselor to Zimbabwe Li Yaohui confirmed the release of the funding.

“We have released 200 million U.S. dollars, the other 800 million dollars will also be released in a short time. The groundbreaking ceremony of the project is expected to be held in mid-June,” Li told Xinhua.

Hwange is the largest coal-fired power station in the country. It was built in two stages, with the first four units commissioned between 1983 and 1986 while the remaining two were commissioned in 1986 and 1987.

In March this year, Sinohydro completed the 300 megawatts Kariba South Hydro Power expansion project which significantly boosts power supplies in the country that is seeking to revive its economy after nearly two decades of stagnant growth.



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