Local election observer groups in Bulawayo (Matabeleland) on Thursday 12 July 2018 unearthed an electoral scandal involving the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, as junior police officer were found voting for postal votes under the supervision of their bosses with the electoral management body (ZEC) denying knowledge of such an exercise taking place.
The local observers and opposition parties thronged the Ross Camp police station to observe the postal ballot voting only to be surprised to find that though there were ballot booths marked ZEC and ZEC postal ballot envelopes, there were no ZEC officials present. It is the senior police officials that were presiding over the elections contrary to local laws. International observer missions also witnessed this scandal.
Meanwhile at another police station in Fairbridge at the outskirts of Bulawayo, both local and international observers were denied entry as postal voting was taking place inside again without any ZEC official present.
ZEC later responded to civic and opposition complaints by issuing a statement denying any claims that there was any postal voting happening, whilst the ZRP also issued a statement confirming the postal voting and allaying any fears of vote rigging.
According to the Zimbabwean electoral laws and the Constitution, only ZEC is mandated to preside over elections.
This blatant violation of the constitution and the right to vote by the police extinguishes and glimmer of hope for a free, fair and credible election on the 30th of July 2018 in Zimbabwe. It is also unfortunate that such behaviour by the electoral management body and the police authorities might incite public discord and displeasure and result in chaotic and violent elections despite the concerted civic society efforts to promote peace and tolerance during election times.
The Bulawayo Ross Camp postal ballots were in Stay Free sanitary pads boxes.