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Zimbabwe's Election Watchdog Backs Proposed Police Voting Reforms

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri is said to be resisting the reforms, demanding that the status quo be maintained with police in polling stations and voting 30 days before ordinary citizens

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has thrown its support behind electoral reforms proposed by the three parties in the national unity government which would bar police from being stationed inside polling stations and abolish mass postal voting for police officers.

Government sources told VOA that the proposals are in an electoral law amendment bill being drafted by the Office of the Attorney General soon to be tabled in parliament.

Parties in the inclusive government want police to cast ballots a day or two before other citizens.

But Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri is said to be resisting the reforms, demanding instead that law enforcement agents be allowed inside polling booths.

Postal voting by police has been criticized by observers in previous elections who say members of were compelled to cast ballots for ZANU-PF under heavy pressure from supervisors.

The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper said Chihuri has protested the proposed changes in writing to the Home Affairs Ministry, demanding police be allowed to vote 30 days before election day.

VOA could not reach Chihuri or one of the the two co-ministers of Home Affairs for comment.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairman Tinoziva Bere told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo the amendments are appropriate because they will restore transparency in police voting.

Weighing in on the debate, Bulawayo-based political analyst Mandlenkosi Gatsheni said the police commissioner’s objections should not be heeded.

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