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Zimbabwe: Voters "intimidated" on the phone, says NGO

An election official monitors voting at a polling station near Harare, Zimbabwe, ...   -  
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Rights activists on Tuesday accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), where presidential and parliamentary elections are due to be held in August, of disclosing the phone numbers of voters who they said had received "intimidation" messages from the ruling party.

According to local NGO Team Pachedu, voters, some of them newly registered, have received personalized text messages in Shona (the local language), including the name of the constituency to which they belong and signed with the name of President Emmerson Mnagwa, who is running for re-election.

"This information only appears on the new electoral lists and only the ZEC (electoral commission) is supposed to have access to it," stressed the organization contacted by AFP.

In addition, "the people who receive the messages are new registrants" as well as opposition supporters "who have never provided their details" to the ruling Zanu-PF, added Team Pachedu.

The organization has declared its intention to sue.

Asked by AFP, the electoral commission denied having provided any contact details.

"We have not given anything to anyone," said its vice president, Rodney Simukai Kiwa. "We are shocked to hear that," he added.

When contacted by AFP, Zanu-PF did not respond.

According to Team Pachedu, the "intimidation tactic" of sending text messages on private numbers had already been used during the last elections in 2018.

The organization had denounced irregularities in the division of electoral districts last month.

President Mnangagwa is regularly accused of muzzling the opposition. But unable to revive an economy that has been in crisis for two decades, he is facing growing discontent.

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