RECENT developments where members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) cast their postal ballots in Bulawayo on Thursday in the absence of Zec officials and polling agents is further confirmation that the electoral management body was not ready to deliver a free and fair election.
But the fact that they were caught napping, with Zec acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana first rubbishing reports on the voting, before making a sudden volte face after police elections commander Senior Assistant Commissioner Erasmus Makodza insisted the voting did take place under the supervision of top cops.
These developments have seriously compromised the credibility of the forthcoming elections, and the public is justified to have fears of a stolen election, itself a long-running Zanu PF tradition with the backing of State apparatus.
If Zec’s operations were above board, then why would they have been contradicting statements from the elections management body and the police? The only conclusion one can deduce, therefore, is that the police were running the postal ballot without the supervision of Zec and in the absence of agents of all parties contesting in the elections.
It is understandable that stakeholders were quick to condemn these developments because they are a serious dent on the credibility of the forthcoming elections, which had been hoped to set a new political trajectory for the country. But this will do significant damage to President Mnangagwa who is desperate for a clear public mandate after sweeping to power with the assistance of the army last November.
During former President Robert Mugabe’s leadership, it had become an open secret that the postal ballots for the police had become one of the many ways of rigging the polls. And the manner in which Zec has just bungled the process seems to reinforce the idea that Zanu PF has not changed tack as they continue to perpetuate Mugabe’s legacy.
The fact that these postal ballots were cast in a police camp also seriously compromises the process, as a neutral ground would have been ideal, given the long-running culture of intimidation of juniors by their seniors in the police force.
This is clearly a naked, shameful and embarrassing attempt to rig the polls and an assault on democracy. The secrecy of the police officers’ ballot was compromised as they voted under the watchful eyes of their bosses.