ZEC chair outs police over election mischief

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba has accused police of sinister activities in previous elections, warning that such practices, if repeated, could negatively affect the 2018 elections.

Chigumba was addressing top police officials attending a “Train the Trainer” workshop in Harare, Thursday.

“There are also reports of police officers who were openly demanding electoral statistics from polling officers then radio them in the full glare of the public and observers,” she said. 

“We do not know where the statistics were being channelled to, but we know they were not being sent through the ZEC structures.

“Such behaviour has this created an impression that the ZEC and the ZRP are devious players in the electoral field.”

Under former President Robert Mugabe’s administration, police were allegedly used in the rigging of and interfering with election processes to Zanu PF’s advantage.

Chigumba added that this has inspired current amendments to electoral laws including changes to redefine the role of police officers at polling stations.

“There are reports from previous elections where the relationship between electoral and police officers could be best described as acrimonious as the former felt as if the latter was there to oversee the running of the elections,” she said.

“The ethos behind running an election is to strengthen democratic principles and practices and such has become the hallmark of modern societies.

“In view of high the regard that elections are given in modern societies, the need for credible elections cannot be overemphasized.”

Chigumba said the next general elections will take place in a shifting political environment including last year’s transition which saw the removal of former President Mugabe from power and the rise of current president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“One such development is the political transition that took place in November 2017 which seem to have rekindled the people’s desire to participate in the seemingly open political spaces as evidenced by the emergence of more than 120 political parties.

“On the international scene the new political dispensation appears to have reignited attention of the international community on Zimbabwe as evidenced by the number of foreign missions that are already in the country to observe the elections.”