By Jeffrey Muvundusi
In what is likely to dent the credibility of the forthcoming polls, police officers here were made to cast their postal vote at Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) headquarters at Ross Camp yesterday in the absence of both observers and officials from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
Opposition political parties were also caught unawares by this development.
Long queues of law enforcement agents in plain clothes could be seen waiting to cast their ballot under the supervision of their bosses, amid unconfirmed reports that it was the same scenario across town at Fair Bridge.
Aggrieved officers took to social media to voice their disapproval, with messages going viral on WhatsApp platform.
This triggered an avalanche of condemnation from opposition parties, who were quick to allege that the ruling Zanu PF could be rigging the July 30 poll.
Police provincial spokesperson Precious Simango referred all questions to their national headquarters in Harare.
In a statement issued yesterday evening, senior assistant commissioner Erasmus Makodza, who is the commander ZRP 2018 harmonised elections committee, confirmed the development, saying some police officers would be on duty in other provinces that are not their normal workstations.
“Thus, in terms of Section 72 of the Electoral Act, the concerned police officers will exercise their right to vote through the postal ballot system, which is being administered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,” he said.
“Some provinces like Bulawayo have excess manpower, which is due for deployment in Matabeleland North province thus necessitating the postal vote for the affected members.
“In fact, the total number of police officers who applied for the postal ballot does not go beyond 4 000.
“The rest of the police officers will actually cast their ballots on 30th July, 2018 as earlier revealed by the ZRP command and Zec in numerous meetings and workshop briefings.
“The picture circulating with police officers gathered at ZRP Ross Camp is an old clip captured in 2013 by some media organisations,” Makodza continued in the statement.
Zec provincial elections officer, Innocent Ncube, told the Daily News yesterday that he became aware of the voting after he had been approached by opposition political parties.
“As Zec, we don’t get involved in postal voting because that’s not our duty.
“What was happening there is that it’s an application that was done by an individual police officer for a postal ballot although their applications were responded (to) in bulk, but they ended up marking their ballot, which means they were voting,” Ncube said.
“I was not aware that there was such happening only to be told by (MDC provincial chair Gift) Banda (who was) complaining about the process”.
MDC provincial spokesperson, Felix Mafa, condemned the voting, describing it as a fraudulent act.
“As the executive of the province, we have referred this fraud to our national leadership, especially to the SG (secretary-general) .it most unfortunate that Zec acts as if it is the flip side of Zanu PF,” Mafa said.
“Which ballot papers are they using since the printing of the ballot is in dispute?” he asked.
“The nation and the international community should also be surprised by this fraudulent act contravening the Electoral Act and the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Zec chair, Justice (Priscilla) Chigumba must be embarrassed and ashamed of this day light electoral fraud.”
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Fortune Mlalazi also condemned the voting.
“This is what we have always been raising in terms of the independence of Zec,” Mlalazi said.
“We obviously reject the issue of postal voting especially where the process is not monitored.
“There must be something happening and we are totally against that. We are obviously going to alert the observers and other stakeholders.”
Addressing journalists during a press conference last month, Makodza said they will deploy 2 372 police officers to the 410 polling stations in the province. –DailyNews