Zec bars police from interfering with polls

HARARE - Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has reiterated that police officers are barred from taking part or interfering with the electoral process beyond maintaining law and order.

This comes after police officers were accused in the Zanu PF primary polls of abusing their power to help disabled or illiterate voters to cast their ballots and act as returning officers in the heavily disputed poll.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been forced to issue a statement condemning the use of police officers and other security agencies in the management of Zanu PF primary elections saying “it is neither the policy of Zanu PF nor the direction of government, through him, to deploy the police force or any arm of the security establishment in helping with any party function, least of all as presiding or returning officers in party primary elections.”

Zec chairperson Priscilla Chigumba told delegates at the train the trainer workshop at the Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) yesterday that the attitude and behaviour of statutory bodies such as the electoral commission and the ZRP was significant in shaping perceptions of fairness and ultimately the credibility of the elections.

Delivering a vote seen as free and fair is crucial to government’s efforts to bridge bridges with the West and could help unlock foreign funding and investment needed to revive a collapsed economy.

“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 election.

“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,” Chigumba said.

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

“Such behaviour has thus created an impression that the Zec and the ZRP are devious players in the electoral fields. 

“It is not surprising that one of the electoral reforms that have been brought before Parliament intends to redefine the role of police officers at polling stations. We cannot afford to have this happen during the 2018 harmonised elections because it sends the wrong signal to the observers as it undermines the independence of the Zec.”

She said Zec and cops must work together to create an environment conducive for delivering a credible election.

“Overall  as the Zec, we appreciate the role of the Zimbabwe Republic  Police in ensuring that voting takes place in a environment  free from intimidation and where both candidates and the electorate  are free to express  their democratic  free will before, during and after  the elections.

“This training is the beginning of the journey between two constitutional bodies that are severally but jointly responsible for creating an environment for delivering a credible election.

“The role of the Zec cannot be fully realised in the absence of the role of the police in maintaining law and order. We need to work together in order to create an environment where the people of Zimbabwe are free to contribute to the democracy of their country.

“Together we can make this country shine and I believe that this training workshop is the beginning of that process.”

Police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga said they have arrested a number of political activists who were perpetrating violence.

“As I speak the Zimbabwe Republic Police has arrested a number of people from various political parties including MDC-T and Zanu PF for engaging in acts of political violence mostly of an intra-party nature.

“And consistent with our zero tolerance stance, we have taken the perpetrators to the courts of law for justice to be served,” Matanga said.

This comes as the Judicial Services Commission has established special courts to deal with cases of political violence, part of the government’s drive to curtail unrest and intimidation ahead of the first post-Robert Mugabe elections set for July.

Matanga said: “Let me reiterate that the ZRP is acutely aware of its obligations and its contribution to the holding of peaceful free fair and credible elections. To this end the impartial enforcement of all the laws is fundamental to contributing to such an envisaged environment.

“Dealing decisively with all forms of violence will impact positively on the outcome of the impending elections.

“As police, we shall continue to work with numerous stakeholders that include the Zec in our tireless endeavour  to foster and sustain a conducive  environment  for the holding of peaceful, free, fair ,transparent  and  credible elections .”

Comments (1)

police was invited by the party to carryout polling officers duties. thats not kupindira. i think anti police mentality blinds us from good effort police does everyday. lets not be myopic.

Observer - 4 May 2018

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.