By Freeman Razemba and Samantha Chipoyera
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has said people who are forcing registered voters to surrender their voter registration slips risk being arrested and prosecuted.
Both the police and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) have received reports of such incidents countrywide.
In a statement on Thursday, national police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi said registered voters that were being intimidated in this way should report to the police.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have received numerous reports to the effect that they are some individuals and groups of people who are forcing potential voters in the forthcoming harmonised elections to produce or surrender their voter registration slips,” said Chief Supt Nyathi.
“Police are, therefore, warning these individuals and groups to desist from this electoral malpractice. Anyone found involved in violation of this nature will be arrested and prosecuted, as they will be committing a criminal offence.”
Chief Supt Nyathi encouraged people to take heed of President Mnangagwa’s call that elections should be held in a peaceful environment.
Police have been urged to be vigilant during the forthcoming harmonised elections, as they are reportedly some elements that want to tarnish the electoral process.
“Potential voters who experience such unlawful conduct should report to the nearest police station for swift investigations to be instituted,” said Chief Supt Nyathi.
“Members of the public and political parties are urged to take heed of his Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Head of State and Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde E.D Mnangagwa’s inaugural speech and his subsequent appeals in various fora of the need to have free, peaceful and fair elections and the observance of the rule of law.”
While officially opening the Criminal Investigations Department (CID)’s new headquarters and Forensic Science Laboratory recently, President Mnangagwa implored the police to ensure that the forthcoming harmonised elections are held in a peaceful environment.
“Allow me to reiterate that we are going to have free, fair and credible elections,” he said.
“As the country’s law enforcement agency, we, therefore, expect you to play a pivotal role by contributing to the building of a conducive atmosphere that begets such a desired outcome, through efficient and effective policing.
“Government would thus do everything in its power to ensure that you are ready to adequately police the forthcoming plebiscite.”
President Mnangagwa urged the police to deal diligently and decisively with all forms of political violence.
“Political players should not be allowed to flout the laws of this country, willy-nilly,” he said.