Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa File picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Harare, Zimbabwe — A data leakage scandal has hit Zimbabwe's election after the ruling party sent personalized, unsolicited campaign messages to potential voters' mobile phones.

The opposition says thousands of supporters reported receiving the messages. "ZANU-PF has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar. There is no legal way for any political party to access voter phone numbers," opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says on Twitter.

The electoral commission denies sharing voters' data with the ruling party. One commissioner, Qhubani Moyo, calls the messages "bulk telemarketing adverts that we have always seen and received from various suppliers of services."

ZANU-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo confirms the party sent the messages but denies the data came from the elections body. He won't say how the party obtained it.

The election is July 30.

AP