FILE: Zimbabwean police queue to vote in the capital Harare July 15, 2013. Zimbabwe’s members of the uniformed forces are casting special votes in the general elections, which will take place across the country on July 31. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE)
BULAWAYO — Hundreds of Zimbabwean police cast their special votes in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, on Thursday, raising the ire of opposition parties, which ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to stop the process saying it violates some national laws.
ZEC dismissed as “hogwash and very stupid propaganda” reports that the electoral body is conducting postal voting for police officers expected to be deployed in several regions ahead of the July 30th general elections.
According to Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Charity Charamba, the postal voting was conducted in the city’s Rose Camp as some provisions of Zimbabwe’s Electoral Act.
“Yes there are police who are voting who are using the postal votes which is provided for under the Electoral Act, Section 72 Chapter 2:13 which entitles especially those from the disciplined forces who will be on duty during the voting days to vote prior to the elections.
“This is done because some of the police officers are going to be deployed at polling stations which are very far away from their polling stations.”
Asked about reports that there were no ZEC officials at the polling station in the city, Charamba said she needed to verify that with relevant information but noted that some observers were monitoring the process.
“There are election observers there who are right there and the officer commanding province for Bulawayo where this complaint has emanated from is on the ground with election observers.”
However, the national electoral body said it was unaware of any postal voting in Zimbabwe.
In a statement, ZEC acting chief elections officer Utloile Silaigwana said they are still processing postal vote applications “and malcontents purporting that members of the uniformed forces voted today are bent on causing alarm and despondency ahead of the July 30 harmonised elections.
“This is hogwash and very stupid propaganda because in the first place they (social media) have photos of a police officer standing near a ballot box yet with postal voting a voter doesn’t use a ballot box. 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 he returns it sealed.
“This is cheap propaganda without substance at all. This is coming from a person who doesn’t even understand the process. The pictures they put have nothing to do with postal vote and these people just want cause despondency in the country.”
Charamba said they need to verify the number of police officers expected to do postal voting.
Almost 8,000 people, including diplomats, have applied for postal voting.