HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has angrily rebuffed allegations that soldiers and police officers - who started voting last Saturday using postal ballots - have been ordered to vote for President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zanu (PF) in the crucial general election.

Several soldiers and police officers claim they have been forced to cast postal votes in favour of the President and Zanu (PF) under the watchful eyes of their commanders.
Security forces started casting their ballots on Saturday amid reports that a surplus 600,000 ballots had been printed by Fidelity Printers on ZEC instructions, almost sixty times more the number of ballots required.
The government and senior electoral officials have rejected the allegations of vote rigging.
ZEC chairman George Chiweshe dismissed the claims as gibberish, saying only 8,000 postal ballots had been requested.
Soldiers and police officers telephoning through our feedback lines said they were forced to lodge postal votes for President Mugabe and his ruling party. The Zimbabwean could not independently verify these reports.
The soldiers, from the southern city of Bulawayo, say their ballot papers were checked by their commanding officer. The allegations have been made only three days before the watershed general election.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said his party only heard late on Friday that postal balloting was starting the following morning and wondered how the process could be held without polling officers.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a press briefing at Harvest House: “What we are witnessing is an attempt by Zanu (PF) and Robert Mugabe to try and rig the elections. Uniformed forces, including the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the police and prison services are not more that 100,000 when combined. We don’t have any forces on duty in foreign lands. The diplomatic community has also shrunk dramatically over the years. So who does ZEC want to give the 600,000 postal ballots to?”
The lead up to the poll has already been blighted by government mischief and official tinkering with the electoral process.
Senior officials in the Simba Makoni camp said they are privy to information that seven senior Central Intelligence Organization officials had been seconded to the ZEC logistics team.

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