Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) commanders have embarked on a full-throttle campaign for Zanu PF by ordering all officers in charge of police stations to ensure that all subordinates and their next of kin, particularly those residing in the camps, are registered to vote for the party.
A senior police officer told Zimbabwe Independent that this directive is designed to intimidate the cops and their families about a month before what could be one of the closely-contested elections in the country’s history.
Those who “disobey” have been threatened with dismissal from the force and eviction from police camps.
“All those residing in police camps have to show proof that they voted for Zanu PF by writing serial numbers on the ballot papers against their identification numbers on the station lists,” said the officer.
Recently, commanders have been touring police stations countrywide urging officers, their spouses and everyone residing in police camps to register for elections and vote for Zanu PF in a move critics have branded as efforts to mislead, intimidate or pressure them ahead of the elections.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri recently told a gathering of police officers’ spouses that they should be “patriotic and demonstrate their love of the country by returning Zanu PF to power”.
However, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba professed ignorance of the claims.
“I am not aware of such an activity where officers are being forced to register with their households,” Charamba said.
“But are police officers not Zimbabweans and where is it indicated that they should not register to vote,” she said.
The police and other security forces have frequently taken an active role in politics and have often been accused of aiding Zanu PF through disrupting rallies and political gatherings organised by the MDC formations, as well as arresting and intimidating political players, members of civil society and voters in general.
This escalation in deceptive and intimidating tactics currently at play around police camps and military garrisons around the country come at a time when the Registrar-General (RG)’s Office has also been employing delaying tactics designed to prevent eligible voters from registering.
The RG’s Office has set fewer voter registration centres in urban areas deemed MDC as compared to rural Zanu PF strongholds.