WASHINGTON DC —
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it is looking for information on the number of people in the country’s security forces after Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri recently requested an alarming number of application forms for postal balloting.
Speaking at a meeting convened by ZEC in Harare on Wednesday attended by representatives of civil society organisations ahead of the early special vote set to be conducted July 15, the chairperson of the electoral body Rita Makarau said she needed more information to verify the number of armed forces who are eligible to vote.
Makarau said her organization has put some measures in place to ensure that the voting will be transparent.
This is also the first time that police and army officers will cast their ballots away from their work stations.
Some political parties such as the two Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formations have complained that allowing uniformed forces to vote in their camps and barracks was tantamount to voter intimidation and exposed the entire voting system to electoral fraud.
Makarau said she believed that Police Commissioner General Chihuri did not mislead her commission.
Of the 70,000 postal voting application forms requested by the police, only 1,000 were not returned.
But some political parties such as the MDC-T and Zapu are arguing that forms applied for by Chihuri are way much more than the country's entire police force. They fear this could be one of the ways Zanu PF could use to steal the pending polls.
The ZEC chairperson also told civil society representatives that those that would not have been accredited by her commission by end of day Wednesday will not be able to observe the postal voting.
Civil society also requested to be allowed to verify that the names of the early voters would be cancelled to ensure they do not vote again come July 31.
Makarau assured them that there were no chances of double voting especially with safeguard measures that her commission announced Wednesday that include that all people who will vote in the early ballot will be directed to a specific polling station in a ward in which their names appear on the voters’ roll.
The commission is believed to have turned down an application by the American-based Carter Centre to observe the July 31 elections.
The Zanu PF leadership says organisations from countries that imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle will not be allowed to observe this year's elections.
At the same time, Makarau said elections to choose members of the chiefs' council are expected to take place Friday ahead of the July 31 national polls.
This is the first time that traditional leaders will be represented in the house of assembly following the adoption of a new constitution.