HARARE, (Xinhua) — Zimbabwean election authorities on Friday dismissed as false and regrettable social media reports alleging irregularities in postal voting currently underway ahead of the July 30 plebiscite.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba told a meeting of accredited observers and journalists in the capital that postal voting was being done in accordance with the law.

The opposition MDC Alliance on Thursday said it was concerned that postal voting by police officers in a police camp in Bulawayo was done secretly as a ploy to rig the upcoming vote in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF.

However, Chigumba said there was no role for candidates, political party representatives or observers in postal voting.

“The social media reports that postal voting is being done secretly are regrettable. No postal voting stations will be set up and those qualifying for postal vote are free to vote secretly for candidates of their choice.

“We are not obliged by law to set up polling stations for postal voting and both election agents and observers have no role to play in postal voting,” Chigumba said.

Her sentiments were echoed by police commander for the 2018 elections Erasmus Makodza who told the same meeting that no police officer was being forced to vote for certain candidates.

“No police officer was ever coerced to vote in front of another officer. The voting process went on very smoothly in Ross Camp in Bulawayo. Unfortunately for some political parties they were not privy to how postal voting is conducted,” Makodza said.

He dismissed the reports as “rubbish and nonsense”, saying the pictures circulating on social media on the purported voting in Bulawayo were taken in 2013.

“The hallucinations coming out from social media must be dismissed with the contempt they deserve. These false reports will not disrupt the smooth running of the elections,” he said.

Makodza said the police were fully geared to ensure the polls are held in a peaceful environment.

ZEC acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana said a total of 7,600 people had applied for postal voting and of these 185 were not registered to vote.

The Commission was therefore processing 7,461 applications for postal vote. Those who applied came from the police, army, Zimbabwe embassies abroad and election officers, he said.

Meanwhile, Chigumba said the transmission of presidential election results from polling stations to the national collation and results center in Harare will not be done electronically but physically.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa will square off with 22 other presidential candidates in the polls.

He has promised to deliver a free and fair vote, and has invited Western observers, banned by former president Robert Mugabe government since 2002, for the polls.