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Parties query ballooning of police voters

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Political parties yesterday quizzed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau over the sudden ballooning of police officers during the election period, saying it was suspicious.

VENERANDA LANGA

The MDC-T and Zapu raised the concern during a meeting with Zec to brief political parties on special and postal voting that will take place on July 14 and 15.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) is said to have 38 000 regular police officers, but police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba told NewsDay that the force had registered 50 000 police officers who include members of the special constabulary as special voters as they would be deployed in various polling stations away from their bases.

Justice Makarau said the ZRP had, however, been given in excess of 69 000 application forms for special voting and of those
32 000 applications had yet to be returned to Zec.

The political parties said in 2008, the figure of ZRP officers who cast special votes was around 38 000, but it had now ballooned to more than double the number.

“The Commissioner-General said he had 69 000 members in the police force and that they will be on duty on that day and we have been told during this time they had employed additional staff in the form of the constabulary and we have taken it in good faith,” said Justice Makarau.

“However, if anyone has independent, verified and authentic evidence that the information that I was given is incorrect, please let us know.”

She said Zec had put in place safeguards to ensure there was no abuse of the special voting facility including prevention of double voting, loss or manipulation of the special vote ballots as well as to ensure secrecy of the vote.

“Voters will vote privately in a polling booth and will not show their ballot papers to anyone as these will be enclosed in an envelope which is then deposited into the ballot box,” Justice Makarau said.

She said the special vote ballot papers would be counted together with those to be cast on July 31.

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