By Staff Reporter
POLICE and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have reacted angrily to opposition claims Thursday that thousands of police officers countrywide had been summoned by the bosses to vote outside supervision by both the poll management body and other interested parties.
Social media was Thursday buzzing with claims, coupled with purported alerts by targeted junior police officers who were claiming they were being forced to vote in front of their superiors at Bulawayo’s Ross Camp.
In separate statements, the two institutions described the claims as fabrications.
“This is hogwash and very stupid propaganda because in the first place they have photos of a police officer standing near a ballot box yet with postal voting, a voter does not use a ballot box,” ZEC chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana said.
He added: “Postal is an individual who says I am applying for postal voting and he or she is given a ballot paper in an envelope and returns it sealed.
“This is cheap propaganda without substance at all. This is coming from a person who does not even understand the process. The pictures they put have nothing to do with postal voting and these people just want to cause despondency in the country.”
The opposition MDC Alliance, which poses the biggest threat to Zanu PF’s continued rule, latched onto the claims and warned of dire consequences.
“They (ZEC) are pushing us into difficult corners where we will be forced to make difficult decisions.
“This is unacceptable. I don’t know what makes a man think they can do this and get away with this,” Biti told a hastily arranged press briefing Thursday.
Biti said the opposition had officials at Ross Camp Police Station (in Bulawayo) who managed to stop “the shenanigans”.
“We will fight in the courts and have already instructed out lawyers to file an urgent chamber application. We will fight in the streets and on the diplomatic front,” said Biti.
He said those who voted Thursday but did not have their names crossed out from the voters’ roll could vote again on election day July 30.
Police commander in charge of the election teams, Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza, also dismissed claims of police officers being forced to vote.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police wishes to set the record straight and allay fears of vote rigging by police officers as claimed in some social media messages which are circulating.
“The correct position is that some police officers will be performing security duties in other provinces which are not their normal work stations.
“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 Zec,” said Makodza.
The top police officer added that Bulawayo had excess manpower among police officers who will be deployed elsewhere.
“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 4000. The rest of police officers will actually cast their ballot on 30 July 2018 as earlier revealed by ZRP Command and ZEC in numerous meeting and workshop briefings. The whole process is conducted according to Section 75 of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13,” said Makodza.