Police hatch postal ballot plan to aid Mugabe

 ZRP offiers,spouses and dependants to vote through postal ballot.
 HARARE - Police officers, their spouses and dependents will be required to vote for President Robert Mugabe through postal ballot in a clandestine scheme to boost figures for the veteran leader in a tricky presidential run-off election, sources told.

 Zimbabwe holds a second presidential election on August 2 after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in a March 29 ballot but failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote required to take power.

 Under the Electoral Act, only police officers deployed on duty outside their voting constituencies as well as civil servants on duty outside the country are allowed to vote by postal ballot. Spouses and dependants of police officers in the country should vote at polling stations in their constituencies like all citizens.

 Our sources, who are senior police officers and cannot be named to protect them, said under the alleged plan spouses and dependents of officers living at police camps are going to be registered as volunteers in the law enforcement agency to enable them to vote by postal ballot.

 “Spouses and dependents who qualify to vote will vote by post under the guise of being police special constabularies who will be on duty on voting day, said one source.

 They will vote two days before the actual election and they will do so under watch from their superiors to ensure they vote for Mugabe.

 The illicit voting plan that our sources said was likely to be extended to include spouses of soldiers was expected to raise at least 30 000 postal votes for Mugabe. There were about 6 000 postal ballot cast in the last election, which were mainly from police officers who were on duty on voting day.

 An internal police document detailing the postal vote scheme shown to ZimOnline on Wednesday said that a police elections command centre would be set up at police general headquarters in Harare.

 Deputy Police Commissioner General in charge of administration and human resources Barbara Mandizha will head the command centre that will oversee the postal voting.

 Chief superintended Prudence Chakanyuka will coordinate the scheme while assistant commissioner Margaret Ndangana will work as administrator of the project.

 The document outlines an elaborate structure of supervision that will ensure that all police officers, spouses and dependents will cast their votes under supervision.

 The document entitled: Postal Voting Mechanisms, says: “(The) command centre will coordinate postal ballots for officers and dependants and registration of dependants into the force.

 “To put mechanisms to ensure adequate supervision of postal voters. Each officer to be supervised by his/her immediate superior. Dispols (district police commanders) to supervise dependants’ votes. Dispols themselves to be supervised by Propols (provincial police commanders).”

 Provincial commanders are the only officers who will vote without anyone watching over them.

 According to our sources, Mandizha explained the new voting arrangement to all senior police officers with rank of chief superintendent and above at a seminar held Tuesday at the Police Club in Harare.

 Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka yesterday denied that the police were planning to rig the presidential run-off election by making spouses and children vote for Mugabe by postal ballot.

 Mandipaka said the Tuesday seminar by Mandizha was not to discuss the alleged vote-rigging scheme but to prepare senior officers ahead of the run-off poll. “It was a preparatory meeting to equip senior officers with necessary skills ahead of the presidential run-off, he said.

 There was no immediate comment from the ZEC or the ruling ZANU PF party on the alleged plan by the police to sway the August vote in favour of Mugabe.

 But Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said it had caught wind of the plan and was in the process of gathering evidence before approaching the courts on the issue.

 MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told ZimOnline: “We have been following the development for two weeks now after being informed by our contacts in the security forces. We are still compiling information on it and we will certainly approach the courts to stop ZANU PF from abusing the postal vote. – ZimOnline.

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