AS the furore around Zimbabwe’s viciously-fought election continues, police have revealed the army might still be called upon to provide logistical support for the month-end polls.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Police’s elections committee commander Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza told journalists yesterday that the army would only provide transport in exceptional circumstances.
“The transportation of ballot materials is the responsibility of Zec [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission]. Our role is to provide security and ensure that we maintain law and order. When ballot material is being transported from point A to B, there is nothing that stops Zec from requesting police to provide security,” Makodza said.
“The army is not involved in the escorting of ballot materials. Unless in exceptional circumstances, where motor vehicles cannot access and we need air transportation, there is a provision that Zec can request for the services (of the army), but obviously, the police will be there to provide security.”
His remarks flew in the face of Zec chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba, who on Monday declared that the military would have no role in the transportation of material for the upcoming elections.
Chigumba claimed that only the printers of ballot material would be responsible for the transportation of election material.
Makodza said police remained disturbed by rampant tearing down of candidates’ campaign posters, intimidation as well as the emergency of “no-go areas”.
“We have also received reports of rival supporters forcing each other to remove regalia or even going to the point of forcing them to wear their chosen regalia against their consent. We have minimal cases of intra- and inter-party political violence. What is interesting is that there are more cases of intra-party than inter-party violence. These are, however, manageable because we have managed to arrest 95% of the perpetrators,” he said.
“In some places, there are groups of people going about claiming ownership of specific areas and declaring them no-go areas for other contestants. That is totally unacceptable and criminal. The police will deal with all political malpractices without fear of favour.”
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said cases of inter- and intra-party violence had been minimal.
She also ruled out politics in the death of a three-year-old minor from Mazowe last month, saying investigations so far indicated that the crime was not politically-related, although the deceased’s father is a parliamentary candidate for the Joice Mujuru-led People’s Rainbow Coalition.