Zimbabwe : Tens of Thousands to vote under pressure ahead of election day

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A clandestine voting scheme has been hatched by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in a way that would required all police officers, their spouses and dependents to vote Robert Mugabe through postal ballot.

from our correspondent in Harare

Under the scheme spouses and dependents of officers living at police camps aregoing to be registered as volunteers in the law enforcement agency to enable them to vote by postal ballot. But under the current Electoral Act, only police officers deployed on duty outside their voting constituencies as well as civil servants on duty outside the country are allowed to vote by postal ballot.

Spouses and dependants of police officers in the country should vote at polling stations in their constituencies like all citizens. “Spouses and dependents who qualify to vote will vote by post under the guise of being police special constabularies who will be on duty on voting day,”
said the police source. “They will vote two days before the actual election and they will do so under watch from their superiors to ensure they vote for Mugabe.”

The illicit voting plan will also spread to spouses of soldiers and rough
estimates indicate a raise of postal votes to at least 30 000 postal votes for Mugabe.

There were about 6 000 postal ballot cast on March 29, which were mainly from police officers who were on duty on voting day.

An internal police document detailing the postal vote scheme circulating to all police stations reveal that a police elections command centre would be set up at police general headquarters in Harare.

Deputy Police Commissioner General in charge of administration and human resources Barbara Mandizha will head the command centre that will oversee the postal voting. Chief superintended Prudence Chakanyuka will coordinate the scheme while assistant commissioner Margaret Ndangana will work as administrator of the project.

The document outlines an elaborate structure of supervision that will ensure that all police officers, spouses and dependents will cast their votes under supervision.

The document entitled: Postal Voting Mechanisms, says: “(The) command
centre will coordinate postal ballots for officers and dependants and
registration of dependants into the force. “To put mechanisms to ensure adequate supervision of postal voters. Each officer to be supervised by his/her immediate superior. Dispols (district police commanders) to supervise dependants’ votes. Dispols themselves to be supervised by Propols (provincial police commanders).”

Provincial commanders are the only officers who will vote without anyone
watching over them. Sources say Mandizha explained the new voting arrangement to all senior police officers with rank of chief superintendent and above at a seminar held Tuesday at the Police Club in Harare.

But police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka denies that the police were planning to rig the presidential run-off election by making spouses and children vote for Mugabe by postal ballot. He says the seminar by Mandizha was not to discuss the alleged vote-rigging scheme but to prepare senior officers ahead of the run-off poll. “It was a preparatory meeting to equip senior officers with necessary skills ahead of the
presidential run-off,” he said.

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