President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday said the use of police officers and other security agencies in the management of Zanu-PF primary elections by some of the party’s aspiring candidates is a violation of law and the practice must stop forthwith.
The Head of State and Government, who is also the Zanu-PF First Secretary and President, said the conflation of party and State institutions had no room in the new dispensation.
In a statement released by the acting secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr Regis Chikowore, President Mnangagwa said law enforcement agencies should be deployed only to maintain law and order.
This warning follows media reports that some aspiring candidates enlisted the services of law enforcement agencies in a bid to win primary elections held this week.
According to the media reports, some police officers acted as polling officers.
“A story in one of our local dailies alleges that Zanu-PF abused police officers and other security agencies during its primaries over the weekend either as polling officers or running other party chores,” President Mnangagwa said.
“The story creates the wrong impression that the alleged abuses were sanctioned by His Excellency the President, Cde E.D Mnangagwa in flagrant violation of the country’s constitution and against his own pledge that State institutions would not be partisan, thereby undermining their constitutional roles as impartial arbiters in the electoral process. The story also suggests that it is the official policy of Zanu-PF to enlist the involvement of security arms in party chores and processes. The President in his capacity as both leader of a political party and Head of Government wishes to make it abundantly clear to all and sundry that it is neither the policy of Zanu-PF nor the direction of Government, through him, to deploy the police force or any arm of the security establishment in helping with any party function, least of all as presiding or returning officers in party primary elections. Any such instances, which might have occurred in the just ended party primary elections would amount to a breach of Zanu-PF policy and certainly a flagrant violation of the laws of the land which must be roundly condemned and stopped forthwith,”
President Mnangagwa said any party officials or officers of the security establishment caught abusing arms and personnel of security would be dealt with “severely”.
“Let it be known that conflation of party and State institutions as might have happened in the past will not be allowed under the new dispensation where the electoral playing field must be seen to be fair and even,” he said.
“Having said this, it must be acknowledged and accepted that our law enforcement agencies should and will be deployed to ensure law, order and the preservation of peace wherever people gather, including for political purposes. Government relies on all those in political leadership to send this clear message to their parties and their membership. The President reiterates his pledge to ensure a plebiscite which is free, fair and an uncontested expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe. To that end, Government has invited all manner of observers to bear witness to the fulfilment of this pledge.”
Zimbabwe is expected to hold harmonised elections by the end of July.