Police, army threats must stop

Testimonies from many officers in the police, the prison services and the army indicate that there has been widespread intimidation of security sector employees.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

The officers have confided to The Zimbabwean that, during recent political rallies, they were threatened with expulsion and other forms of punishment if they do not vote for Zanu (PF). As a result, widespread fear has engulfed the uniformed services, with scores of officers saying they are afraid to go against their bosses’ orders.

They are worried that, having completed special vote application forms on which they entered their identity particulars, it might be possible for them to be tracked down, whether as groups as individuals. It is obvious that their superiors will easily note voting trends at particular stations during the July 14-15 special polling exercise and punish them as individuals or en bloc.

For example, if there are many votes that go to parties other than Zanu (PF) at Town House where Harare Central police officers voted, the bosses might transfer the officers en masse to inhabitable police stations in the rural areas, or ensure that they are charged frivolously.

Whatever will happen after voting, the point remains that most police officers did not cast their special ballots freely. This flies in the face of a democratic election. Worse still, it was criminal for uniformed forces bosses to actively campaign on behalf of Zanu (PF). The new constitution clearly states that security chiefs must be non-partisan and should not prejudice or promote any political party.

The intimidation is a brazen demonstration of the militarisation of public institutions by a few individuals, who should not be kept in those jobs at the taxpayers’ expense.

It is our hope that the affected officers will summon enough courage to inform local and international observer missions set to monitor the election. Intimidation is vote rigging in its worst form as it sways votes.

We are also suggesting that they find a way of informing ZEC and other relevant bodies of what has transpired so that, hopefully, appropriate action is taken against the culprits.

Security chiefs must respect the choice of their juniors and should not force them to vote in accordance with their illegal biases.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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