TEMPERS flared yesterday after it emerged that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had “secretly” allowed police officers to vote ahead of the August 23 polls in the absence of political parties’ polling agents.
Zec deputy chairperson Rodney Simukai Kiwa confirmed the development yesterday, saying they had only allowed police officers deployed outside their constituencies to participate in the postal ballot system, adding “there is no way postal voting can be monitored”.
“Yes they have been voting,” Kiwa said.
“We started sending out the postal ballots on Sunday and Monday.”
Citizens Coalition for Change spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said political parties should have been allowed to deploy election agents to monitor the process.
“ALERT: We’ve received reports from all provinces that members of @PoliceZimbabwe are today casting their postal votes. Our agents and independent observers have not been allowed to monitor the process. Where is the transparency @ZECzim? #ZECMustExplain,” Mahere tweeted.
But Kiwa said postal voting was not subject to monitoring.
“There is no way postal votes can be monitored,” Kiwa said.
“Postal votes are not subject to monitoring. So the opposition or whoever who might want to monitor, it’s not possible. How can one tell whether there are postal votes? The law is very clear on that. How can you deploy observers on postal votes, because the postal ballots are dispatched in various places, so operationally, physically, it’s not possible.”
Zec recently gazetted Statutory Instrument 140, which amended section 75(1)(d) of the Electoral Act to allow the chief elections officer to receive postal votes not later than three days of the voting day instead of 14 days.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has promoted 1 500 police officers countrywide in what has been viewed as a strategy to boost their morale and buy their loyalty ahead of the August 23 elections.
NewsDay is, however, reliably informed that there is disgruntlement among junior officers over the questionable promotions amid reports of nepotism and politicisation of the process since the criteria used was unclear.
In the past, police officers wrote examinations to be promoted.
Alternatively, for those who were not intellectually gifted, the force would invoke provisions of the Police Act to promote members of the force on account of good behaviour and hard work.
According to a memo written by Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to all stations, and seen by NewsDay, all promoted officers will be transferred from their stations after the election.
“The Commissioner-General of Police is pleased to announce the promotion of the following members with effect from 11/08/23 as shown in order of merit,” Matanga said.
“Conferment of badges of rank shall be conducted by respective officers commanding provinces (for all provinces/CID/SU) and CSO admin in respect of PGHQ [Police General Headquarters] on Friday August 18, 2023 at 1000 hours.
“All promoted members shall not put on the new badges of rank until after conferment. Staff officer ordnance shall start issuing out new badges of rank on Wednesday August 16.
“Promoted members are to remain in their current stations until after the 2023 harmonised elections.”
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the promotions.
He said: “It is not correct that the promotions are targeted at boosting the morale of police officers due to the pending general elections set for August 23, 2023. The Zimbabwe Republic Police has a promotional policy which guides the organisation on promotions as vacancies arise within the system due to natural manpower wastage such as retirement, death, resignation and those dismissed for various disciplinary reasons and criminal acts.”
He said Matanga had not received complaints from officers-in-charge about “the interference by some senior officers in order to promote their relatives or those close to the said senior officers”.
“In fact, the promotion exercise was conducted through boards of officers at station, district, provincial and national levels. These boards then submitted their recommendations to the Commissioner-General of Police,” Nyathi said.
“This was an open system which started at the station level based on merit. Above all, it is not possible for the ZRP to promote all police officers at one go. The Commissioner-General of Police is even happy to receive names of the said police officers who were promoted at the instigation or interference of some senior officers.”
However, NewsDay heard that there is disgruntlement over the criteria used to select officers deserving promotion amid claims of nepotism.
“The criteria used to come up with the promotions were not clear,” once police source confided in NewsDay yesterday.
“There are complaints of nepotism, where some officers known to be related to high ranking officials were promoted. Police officers used to write examinations for them to be promoted, so promotion was on merit.
“But now the officer-in-charge recommends the officer for promotion which has now been marred with various irregularities. This has caused serious divisions within the force as many junior cops are against this process.”