HARARE, WASHINGTON —
Judge president George Chiweshe on Wednesday directed Attorney General Johannes Tomana to investigate the number of police officers in the country after the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai questioned the number of officers who had applied to cast ballots in a special voting exercise that ended Monday.
The directive by Justice Chiweshe follows complaints by the MDC-T that the number of police officers who applied to vote early because they will not be in their constituencies during the July 31 national elections was inflated.
Charles Nyika, an attorney representing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), said lawyers representing MDC-T deputy chairman, Morgan Komichi, presented in court some documents showing that the country has about 44,000 police officers against the 69,000 application forms that the police requested from the electoral body.
This was supported by Komichi's attorney, Advocate Lewis Uriri.
Uriri said the court is expected to take an appropriate decision given that early voting had already taken place in accordance with the ruling of the Constitutional Court that directed that polls should be conducted no later than July 31 this year.
In terms of the Electoral Act, special voting should take place not less than 16 days before general polls.
However, Nyika said nothing will change because special voters have already cast their ballots.
The case was adjourned to Thursday to allow Mr. Tomana to furnish the court with the exact number of police officers in the country.
MDC-T says inflating the number of police officers in the early vote was one of the many ways they think Zanu PF is using to rig the July 31 polls.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tsvangirai reportedly told his supporters in Gokwe on Wednesday that ZEC created an artificial shortage of ballot papers after Zanu PF realized that its support among the uniformed forces is dwindling ahead of the elections.
The accusation by Mr. Tsvangirai comes only a day after his party's secretary general Tendai Biti alleged that the management of electoral affairs had been hijacked by what he described as “the junta” in Zanu PF.
VOA Studio 7 failed to get a comment from Zanu PF, but for its part, ZEC, through its deputy chairperson, Joice Kazembe, said it failed to provide ballot papers in time for special voting because the printing of the ballots was delayed by the limited time her commission was given to prepare for the elections following the ruling of the Constitutional Court ordering polls to be held no later than July 31.
Meanwhile, The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced that members of the uniformed forces and ZEC staff members, who failed to cast their ballot in the 2-day special voting exercise that ended in the early hours of Tuesday, will be allowed to do so along ordinary voters on July 31.
Announcing the extension ZEC chairperson Rita Makarau said they will put in place measures to prevent people from voting twice by deleting the names of those who managed to cast their ballots.
But MDC T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that what ZEC is attempting to do is illegal.
“There is a section (in the constitution) which says that once a person has applied for a special vote and is on the list of those people who are going to vote in a special vote, they shall not be allowed to vote in the main election. That has to be dealt with.” Mwonzora said.