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Rita Makarau Appointed Acting Zim's Electoral Body Chair

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Harare, February 20, 2013 - Zimbabwe's leaders have picked a Supreme Court judge to head the country's electoral body ahead of a crunch constitutional referendum and national elections, a minister said Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have proposed the appointment of Rita Makarau, 52, to head the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwe's justice minister, told AFP.

Seen as a pro-Mugabe candidate, Makarau, has worked as a former public prosecutor and lectured briefly at the University of Zimbabwe.

In 1997, Mugabe appointed her as a non-constituency member of parliament; she also served in the constitutional commission that drafted a constitution that was rejected by voters in 2000.

She has been a Supreme Court judge since 2010.

According to Chinamasa, Makarau's appointment is not yet finalised and would be temporary until a permanent head is found.

"It is a proposed appointment, now we are waiting for consultations between the Judicial Services Commission and the parliament committee before the formal announcement is made," he said.

She would be replacing former judge Simpson Mutambanengwe who retired last week as head of the commission.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold a constitutional referendum on March 16 and elections in July, which will end the shaky coalition, but no dates have been set.

Elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by human rights violations including killings of political opponents, beatings and intimidation. AFP

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